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The Man Who Was 




Author of " Varied Types,'" 
'* Charles Dickens. A Critical Study,'" etc. 



Copyright, 1908, by 

DoDD, Mead & Company 

Published, March, igo8 

ft 6. 

CDmunb Clerifjeto Pentlep 

A cloud was on the mind of men, and wailing went the weather, 

Yea, a sick cloud upon the soul when we were boys together. 

Science announced nonentity and art admired decay ; 

The world was old and ended : but you and I were gay. 

Round us in antic order their crippled vices came — 

Lust that had lost its laughter, fear that had lost its shame. 

Like the white lock of Whistler, that lit our aimless gloom, 

Men showed their own white feather as proudly as a plume. 

Life was a fly that faded, and death a drone that stung ; 

The world was very old indeed when you and I were young. 

They twisted even decent sin to shapes not to be named ; 

Men were ashamed of honour ; but we were not ashamed. 

Weak if we were and foolish, not thus we failed, not thus ; 

When that black Baal blocked the heavens he had no hymns from U3. 

Children we were — our forts of sand were even as weak as we, 

High as they went we piled them up to break that bitter sea. 

Fools as we were in motley, all jangling and absurd. 

When all church bells were silent our cap and bells were heard. 

Not all unhelped we held the fort, our tiny flags unfurled ; 

Some giants laboured in that cloud to lift it from the world. 

I find again the book we found, I feel the hour that Hings 

Far out of fish-shaped Paumanok some cry of cleaner things ; 

And the Green Carnation withered, as in forest fires that pass. 

Roared in the wind of all the world ten million leaves of grass } 

Or sane and sweet and sudden as a bird sings in the rain — 

Truth out of Tusitala spoke and pleasure out of pain. 

Yea, cool and clear and sudden as a bird sings in the grey, 

Dunedin to Samoa spoke, and darkness unto day. 

But we were young ; we lived to see God break their bitter charms, 

God and the good Republic come riding back in arms : 

We have seen the City of Mansoul, even as it rocked, relieved — 

Blessed are they who did not see, but being blind, believed. 

This is a tale of those old fears, even of those emptied hells. 
And none but you shall understand the true thing that it tells — 
Of what colossal gods of shame could cow men and yet crash. 
Of what huge devils hid the stars, yet fell at a pistol Hash. 
The doubts that were so plain to chase, so dreadful to withstand — 
Oh, who shall understand but you ; yea, who shall understand ? 
The doubts that drove us through the night as we two talked amain, 
And day had broken on the streets e'er it broke upon the brain. 
Between us, by the peace of God, such truth can now be told ; 
Yea, there is strength in striking root, and good in growing old. 
We have found common things at last, and marriage and a creed. 
And I may safely write it now, and you may solely read 

G. K. C. 



I The Two Poets of Saffron Park 

II The Secret of Gabriel Syme . 

III The Man who was Thursday 

IV The Tale of a Detective 
V The Feast of Fear . 

VI The Exposure .... 

VII The Unaccountable Conduct of 
Professor De Worms . 

VIII The Professor Explains . 

IX The Man in Spectacles . 

X The Duel .... 

XI The Criminals Chase the Police 

XII The Earth in Anarchy . 

XIII The Pursuit of the President 

XIV The Six Philosophers 
XV The Accuser .... 









The Man who was Thursday 



The suburb of Saffron Park lay on the sunset side 
of London, as red and ragged as a cloud of sunset. 
It was built of a bright brick throughout ; its sky- 
line was fantastic, and even its ground plan was wild. 
It had been the outburst of a speculative builder, 
faintly tinged with art, who called its architecture 
sometimes Elizabethan and sometimes Queen Anne, 
apparently under the impression that the two 
sovereigns were identical. It was described with 
some justice as an artistic colony, though it never in 
any definable way produced any art. But although 
its pretensions to be an intellectual centre were a 
little vague, its pretensions to be a pleasant place 
were quite indisputable. The stranger who looked 
for the first time at the quaint red houses could only 
think how very oddly shaped the people must be 
who could fit in to them. Nor when he met the 
people was he disappointed in this respect. The 


place was not only pleasant, but perfect, if once he 
could regard it not as a deception but rather as a 
dream. Even if the people were not " artists," the 
whole was nevertheless artistic. That young man 
with the long, auburn hair and the impudent face — 
that young man was not really a poet ; but surely 
he was a poem. That old gentleman with the wild, 
white beard and the wild, white hat — that venerable 
humbug was not really a philosopher ; but at least 
he was the cause of philosophy in others. That 
scientific gentleman with the bald, egg-Uke head 
and the bare, bird-like neck had no real right to the 
airs of science that he assumed. He had not dis- 
covered anything new in biology ; but what biolog- 
ical creature could he have discovered more singular 
than himself ? Thus, and thus only, the whole place 
had properly to be regarded ; it had to be considered 
not so much as a workshop for artists, but as a frail 
but finished work of art. A man who stepped into 
its social atmosphere felt as if he had stepped into a 
written comedy. 

More especially this attractive unreality fell upon 
it about nightfall, when the extravagant roofs were 
dark against the afterglow and the whole insane 
village seemed as separate as a drifting cloud. This 
again was more strongly true of the many nights of 


local festivity, when the little gardens were often il- 
luminated, and the big Chinese lanterns glowed in 
the dwarfish trees hke some fierce and monstrous 
fruit. And this was strongest of all on one particu- 
lar evening, still vaguely remembered in the locality, 
of which the auburn-haired poet was the hero. It 
was not by any means the only evening of which he 
was the hero. On many nights those passing by 
his little back garden might hear his high, didactic 
voice laying down the law to men and particularly 
to women. The attitude of women in such cases 
was indeed one of the paradoxes of the place. Most 
of the women were of the kind vaguely called 
emancipated, and professed some protest against 
male supremacy. Yet these new women would al- 
ways pay to a man the extravagant compliment 
which no ordinary woman ever pays to him, that of 
listening while he is talking. And Mr. Lucian 
Gregory, the red-haired poet, was really (in some 
sense) a man worth listening to, even if one only 
laughed at the end of it. He put the old cant of the 
lawlessness of art and the art of lawlessness with a 
certain impudent freshness which gave at least a 
momentary pleasure. He was helped in some de- 
gree by the arresting oddity of his appearance, 
which he worked, as the phrase goes, for all it was 


worth. His dark red hair parted in the middle was 
literally like a woman's, and curved into the slow 
curls of a virgin in a pre-Raphaelite picture. From 
within this almost saintly oval, however, his face 
projected suddenly broad and brutal, the chin car- 
ried forward with a look of cockney contempt. 
This combination at once tickled and terrified the 
nerves of a neurotic population. He seemed like 
a walking blasphemy, a blend of the angel and the 

This particular evening, if it is remembered for 
nothing else, will be remembered in that place for 
its strange sunset. It looked like the end of the 
world. All the heaven seemed covered with a quite 
vivid and palpable plumage; you could only say 
that the sky was full of feathers, and of feathers that 
almost brushed the face. Across the great part of 
the dome they were grey, with the strangest tints 
of violet and mauve and an unnatural pink or pale 
green ; but towards the west the whole grew past 
description, transparent and passionate, and the last 
red-hot plumes of it covered up the sun like some- 
thing too good to be seen. The whole was so close 
about the earth, as to express nothing but a violent 
secrecy. The very empyrean seemed to be a secret. 
It expressed that splendid smallness which is the 


soul of local patriotism. The very sky seemed 


I say that there are some inhabitants who may 
remember the evening if only by that oppressive 
sky. There are others who may remember it be- 
cause it marked the first appearance in the place of 
the second poet of Saffron Park. For a long time 
the red-haired revolutionary had reigned without a 
rival; it was upon the night of the sunset that his 
solitude suddenly ended. The new poet, who intro- 
duced himself by the name of Gabriel Syme, was a 
very mild-looking mortal, with a fair, pointed beard 
and faint, yellow hair. But an impression grew that 
he was less meek than he looked. He signalised 
his entrance by differing with the established poet, 
Gregory, upon the whole nature of poetry. He said 
that he (Syme) was a poet of law, a poet of order ; 
nay, he said he was a poet of respectability. So all 
the Saffron Parkers looked at him as if he had that 
moment fallen out of that impossible sky. 

In fact, Mr. Lucian Gregory, the anarchic poet, 
connected the two events. 

" It may well be," he said, in his sudden lyrical 
manner, " it may well be on such a night of clouds 
and cruel colours that there is brought forth upon 
the earth such a portent as a respectable poet. You 


say you are a poet of law ; I say you are a contra- 
diction in terms. I only wonder there were not 
comets and earthquakes on the night you appeared 
in this garden." 

The man with the meek blue eyes and the pale, 
pointed beard endured these thunders with a certain 
submissive solemnity. The third party of the group, 
Gregory's sister Rosamond, who had her brother's 
braids of red hair, but a kindlier face underneath 
them, laughed with such mixture of admiration and 
disapproval as she gave commonly to the family 

Gregory resumed in high oratorical good-humour. 

*' An artist is identical with an anarchist," he 
cried. " You might transpose the words anywhere. 
An anarchist is an artist. The man who throws a 
bomb is an artist, because he prefers a great moment 
to everything. He sees how much more valuable is 
one burst of blazing light, one peal of perfect thun- 
der, than the mere common bodies of a few shape- 
less policemen. An artist disregards all govern- 
ments, abolishes all conventions. The poet delights 
in disorder only. If it were not so, the most poet- 
ical thing in the world would be the Underground 

" So it is," said Mr. Syme. 


" Nonsense ! " said Gregory, who was very rational 
when any one else attempted paradox. " Why do all 
the clerks and navvies in the railway trains look so 
sad and tired, so very sad and tired ? I will tell 
you. It is because they know that the train is 
going right. It is because they know that what- 
ever place they have taken a ticket for that place 
they will reach. It is because after they have 
passed Sloane Square they know that the next sta- 
tion must be Victoria, and nothing but Victoria. 
Oh, their wild rapture ! oh, their eyes like stars and 
their souls again in Eden, if the next station were 
unaccountably Baker Street ! " 

" It is you who are unpoetical," replied the poet 
Syme. " If what you say of clerks is true, they can 
only be as prosaic as your poetry. The rare, strange 
thing is to hit the mark ; the gross, obvious thing is 
to miss it. We feel it is epical when man with one 
wild arrow strikes a distant bird. Is it not also epical 
when man with one wild engine strikes a distant 
station ? Chaos is dull ; because in chaos the train 
might indeed go anywhere, to Baker Street or to 
Bagdad. But man is a magician, and his whole 
magic is in this, that he does say Victoria, and lo ! 
it is Victoria. No, take your books of mere poetry 
and prose ; let me read a time table, with tears of 


pride. Take your Byron, who commemorates the 
defeats of man ; give me Bradshaw, who commemo- 
rates his victories. Give me Bradshaw, I say ! " 

" Must you go ? " inquired Gregory sarcastically. 

" I tell you," went on Syme with passion, " that 
every time a train comes in I feel that it has broken 
past batteries of besiegers, and that man has won a 
battle against chaos. You say contemptuously 
that when one has left Sloane Square one must come 
to Victoria. I say that one might do a thousand 
things instead, and that whenever I really come 
there I have the sense of hair-breadth escape. And 
when I hear the guard shout out the word ' Vic- 
toria,' it is not an unmeaning word. It is to me 
the cry of a herald announcing conquest. It is to 
me indeed * Victoria' ; it is the victory of Adam." 

Gregory wagged his heavy, red head with a slow 
and sad smile. 

" And even then," he said, " we poets always ask 
the question, ' And what is Victoria now that you 
have got there?' You think Victoria is Hke the 
New Jerusalem. We know that the New Jerusa- 
lem will only be like Victoria. Yes, the poet will 
be discontented even in the streets of heaven. 
The poet is always in revolt." 

"There again," said Syme irritably, "what is 


there poetical about being in revolt? You might 
as well say that it is poetical to be seasick. Being 
sick is a revolt. Both being sick and being re- 
bellious may be the wholesome thing on certain 
desperate occasions ; but I'm hanged if I can see 
why they are poetical. Revolt in the abstract is — 
revolting. It's mere vomiting." 

The girl winced for a flash at the unpleasant 
word, but Syme was too hot to heed her. 

" It is things going right," he cried, " that is po- 
etical ! Our digestions, for instance, going sacredly 
and silently right, that is the foundation of all 
poetry. Yes, the most poetical thing, more po- 
etical than the flowers, more poetical than the 
stars — the most poetical thing in the world is not 
being sick." 

" Really," said Gregory, superciliously, " the 
examples you choose " 

" I beg your pardon," said Syme grimly, " I for- 
got we had abolished all conventions." 

For the first time a red patch appeared on 
Gregory's forehead. 

" You don't expect me," he said, " to revolution- 
ise society on this lawn ? " 

Syme looked straight into his eyes and smiled 


" No, I don't," he said; " but I suppose that if 
you were serious about your anarchism, that is 
exactly what you would do." 

Gregory's big bull's eyes blinked suddenly like 
those of an angry lion, and one could almost fancy 
that his red mane rose. 

" Don't you think, then," he said in a dangerous 
voice, " that I am serious about my anarchism ? " 

" I beg your pardon ? " said Syme. 

" Am I not serious about my anarchism ? " cried 
Gregory, with knotted fists. 

" My dear fellow ! " said Syme, and strolled 

With surprise, but with a curious pleasure, he 
found Rosamond Gregory still in his company. 

" Mr. Syme," she said, " do the people who talk 
like you and my brother often mean what they 
say ? Do you mean what you say now ? " 

Syme smiled. 

" Do you ? " he asked. 

" What do you mean ? " asked the girl, with 
grave eyes. 

" My dear Miss Gregory," said Syme gently, 
" there are many kinds of sincerity and insincerity. 
When you say * thank you ' for the salt, do you 
mean what you say ? No. When you say * the 


world is round/ do you mean what you say ? No. 
It is true, but you don't mean it. Now, sometimes 
a man like your brother really finds a thing he does 
mean. It may be only a half-truth, quarter-truth, 
tenth-truth ; but then he says more than he means 
— from sheer force of meaning it." 

She was looking at him from under level brows ; 
her face was grave and open, and there had fallen 
upon it the shadow of that unreasoning responsi- 
bility which is at the bottom of the most frivolous 
woman, the maternal watch which is as old as the 

" Is he really an anarchist, then ? " she asked. 

" Only in that sense I speak of," replied Syme ; 
" or if you prefer it, in that nonsense." 

She drew her broad brows together and said 
abruptly — 

" He wouldn't really use — bombs or that sort of 
thing ? " 

Syme broke into a great laugh, that seemed too 
large for his slight and somewhat dandified figure. 

" Good Lord, no ! " he said, " that has to be done 

And at that the corners of her own mouth broke 
into a smile, and she thought with a simultaneous 
pleasure of Gregory's absurdity and of his safety. 


Syme strolled with her to a seat in the corner of 
the garden, and continued to pour out his opinions. 
For he was a sincere man, and in spite of his super- 
ficial airs and graces, at root a humble one. And it 
is always the humble man who talks too much ; the 
proud man watches himself too closely. He de- 
fended respectability with violence and exaggera- 
tion. He grew passionate in his praise of tidiness 
and propriety. All the time there was a smell of 
lilac all round him. Once he heard very faintly in 
some distant street a barrel-organ begin to play, 
and it seemed to him that his heroic words were 
moving to a tiny tune from under or beyond the 

He stared and talked at the girl's red hair and 
amused face for what seemed to be a few minutes ; 
and then, feeling that the groups in such a place 
should mix, rose to his feet. To his astonishment, 
he discovered the whole garden empty. Every one 
had gone long ago, and he went himself with a 
rather hurried apology. He left with a sense of 
champagne in his head, which he could not after- 
wards explain. In the wild events which were to 
follow this girl had no part at all ; he never saw her 
again until all his tale was over. And yet, in some 
indescribable way, she kept recurring like a motive 


in music through all his mad adventures afterwards, 
and the glory of her strange hair ran like a red 
thread through those dark and ill-drawn tapestries 
of the night. For what followed was so improb- 
able, that it might well have been a dream. 

When Syme went out into the starht street, he 
found it for the moment empty. Then he realised 
(in some odd way) that the silence was rather a 
living silence than a dead one. Directly outside 
the door stood a street lamp, whose gleam gilded 
the leaves of the tree that bent out over the fence 
behind him. About a foot from the lamp-post 
stood a figure almost as rigid and motionless as the 
lamp-post itself. The tall hat and long frock-coat 
were black; the face, in an abrupt shadow, was 
almost as dark. Only a fringe of fiery hair against 
the light, and also something aggressive in the 
attitude, proclaimed that it was the poet Gregory. 
He had something of the look of a masked bravo 
waiting sword in hand for his foe. 

He made a sort of doubtful salute, which Syme 
somewhat more formally returned. 

" I was waiting for you," said Gregory. " Might 
I have a moment's conversation ? " 

" Certainly. About what ? " asked Syme in a sort 
of weak wonder. 


Gregory struck out with his stick at the lamp- 
post, and then at the tree. 

«' About this and this" he cried ; " about order 
and anarchy. There is your precious order, that 
lean, iron lamp, ugly and barren; and there is 
anarchy, rich, living, reproducing itself — there is 
anarchy, splendid in green and gold." 

'* All the same," repHed Syme patiently, "just at 
present you only see the tree by the light of the 
lamp. I wonder when you would ever see the 
lamp by the light of the tree." Then after a pause 
he said, " But may I ask if you have been stand- 
ing out here in the dark only to resume our little 
argument ? " 

" No," cried out Gregory, in a voice that rang 
down the street, " I did not stand here to resume 
our argument, but to end it forever." 

The silence fell again, and Syme, though he 
understood nothing, listened instinctively for some- 
thing serious. Gregory began in a smooth voice 
and with a rather bewildering smile. 

" Mr. Syme," he said, " this evening you suc- 
ceeded in doing something rather remarkable. You 
did something to me that no man born of woman 
has ever succeeded in doing before." 



" Now I remember," resumed Gregory reflec- 
tively, " one other person succeeded in doing it. 
The captain of a penny steamer (if I remember cor- 
rectly) at Southend. You have irritated me." 

" I am very sorry," replied Syme with gravity. 

" I am afraid my fury and your insult are too 
shocking to be wiped out even with an apology," 
said Gregory very calmly. " No duel could wipe 
it out. If I struck you dead I could not wipe it 
out. There is only one way by which that insult 
can be erased, and that way I choose. I am going, 
at the possible sacrifice of my life and honour, to 
prove to you that you were wrong in what you said." 

" In what I said ? " 

" You said I was not serious about being an 

" There are degrees of seriousness," replied Syme. 
"I have never doubted that you were perfectly 
sincere in this sense, that you thought what you 
said well worth saying, that you thought a paradox 
might wake men up to a neglected truth." 
Gregory stared at him steadily and painfully. 
" And in no other sense," he asked, "you think 
me serious ? You think me a flaneur who lets fall 
occasional truths. You do not think that in a 
deeper, a more deadly sense, I am serious." 


Syme struck his stick violently on the stones of 
the road. 

" Serious ! " he cried. " Good Lord ! is this 
street serious ? Are these damned Chinese lanterns 
serious ? Is the whole caboodle serious ? One 
comes here and talks a pack of bosh, and perhaps 
some sense as well, but I should think very little 
of a man who didn't keep something in the back- 
ground of his life that was more serious than all 
this talking — something more serious, whether it 
was religion or only drink." 

" Very well," said Gregory, his face darkening, 
*' you shall see something more serious than either 
drink or religion," 

Syme stood waiting with his usual air of mildness 
until Gregory again opened his lips. 

" You spoke just now of having a religion. Is it 
really true that you have one ? " 

" Oh," said Syme with a beaming smile, " we are 
all Catholics now." 

" Then may I ask you to swear by whatever gods 
or saints your religion involves that you will not 
reveal what I am now going to tell you to any son 
of Adam, and especially not to the police? Will 
you swear that ! If you will take upon yourself 
this awful abnegation, if you will consent to burden 


your soul with a vow that you should never make 
and a knowledge you should never dream about, I 
will promise you in return " 

** You will promise me in return ? " inquired 
Syme, as the other paused. 

" I will promise you a very entertaining evening." 

Syme suddenly took off his hat. 

" Your offer," he said, " is far too idiotic to be de- 
clined. You say that a poet is always an anarchist. 
I disagree ; but I hope at least that he is always a 
sportsman. Permit me, here and now, to swear as 
a Christian, and promise as a good comrade and a 
fellow-artist, that I will not report anything of this, 
whatever it is, to the poHce. And now, in the name 
of Colney Hatch, what is it ? " 

" I think," said Gregory, with placid irrelevancy, 
" that we will call a cab." 

He gave two long whistles, and a hansom came 
ratthng down the road. The two got into it in 
silence. Gregory gave through the trap the ad- 
dress of an obscure public-house on the Chiswick 
bank of the river. The cab whisked itself away 
again, and in it these two fantastics quitted their 
fantastic town. 



The cab pulled up before a particularly dreary 
and greasy beershop, into which Gregory rapidly 
conducted his companion. They seated themselves 
in a close and dim sort of bar-parlour, at a stained 
wooden table with one wooden leg. The room was 
so small and dark, that very little could be seen 
of the attendant who was summoned, beyond a 
vague and dark impression of something bulky 
and bearded. 

" Will you take a little supper ? " asked Gregory 
politely. " The pate de foie gras is not good here, 
but I can recommend the game." 

Syme received the remark with stohdity, imagin- 
ing it to be a joke. Accepting the vein of humour, 
he said, with a well-bred indifference — 

*' Oh, bring me some lobster mayonnaise." 

To his indescribable astonishment, the man only 
said, " Certainly, sir ! " and went away apparently 
to get it. 

" What will you drink ? " resumed Gregory, with 
the same careless yet apologetic air, " I shall only 



have a crane de menthe myself; I have dined. 
But the champagne can really be trusted. Do let 
me start you with a half-bottle of Pommery at 
least ? " 

" Thank you ! " said the motionless Syme. " You 
are very good." 

His further attempts at conversation, somewhat 
disorganised in themselves, were cut short finally as 
by a thunderbolt by the actual appearance of the 
lobster. Syme tasted it, and found it particularly 
good. Then he suddenly began to eat with great 
rapidity and appetite. 

" Excuse me if I enjoy myself rather obviously ! " 
he said to Gregory, smiling. " I don't often have 
the luck to have a dream like this. It is new to 
me for a nightmare to lead to a lobster. It is com- 
monly the other way." 

" You are not asleep, I assure you," said Gregory. 
" You are, on the contrary, close to the most actual 
and rousing moment of your existence. Ah, here 
comes your champagne ! I admit that there may 
be a slight disproportion, let us say, between the 
inner arrangements of this excellent hotel and its 
simple and unpretentious exterior. But that is all 
our modesty. We are the most modest men that 
ever lived on earth." 


" And who are we ? " asked Syme, emptying his 
champagne glass. 

" It is quite simple," replied Gregory. *' We are 
the serious anarchists, in whom you do not be- 

" Oh ! " said Syme shortly. " You do yourselves 
well in drinks." 

" Yes, we are serious about everything," answered 

Then after a pause he added — 

" If in a few moments this table begins to turn 
round a little, don't put it down to your inroads into 
the champagne. I don't wish you to do yourself an 

" Well, if I am not drunk, I am mad," replied 
Syme with perfect calm ; " but I trust I can behave 
like a gentleman in either condition. May I 
smoke ? " 

" Certainly ! " said Gregory, producing a cigar- 
case. " Try one of mine." 

Syme took the cigar, clipped the end off with a 
cigar-cutter out of his waistcoat pocket, put it in his 
mouth, lit it slowly, and let out a long cloud of 
smoke. It is not a little to his credit that he per- 
formed these rites with so much composure, for al- 
most before he had begun them the table at which 


he sat had begun to revolve, first slowly, and then 
rapidly, as if at an insane seance. 

"You must not mind it," said Gregory; "it's a 
kind of screw." 

" Quite so," said Syme placidly, " a kind of screw ! 
How simple that is ! " 

The next moment the smoke of his cigar, which 
had been wavering across the room in snaky twists, 
went straight up as if from a factory chimney, and 
the two, with their chairs and table, shot down 
through the floor as if the earth had swallowed 
them. They went rattling down a kind of roaring 
chimney as rapidly as a lift cut loose, and they came 
with an abrupt bump to the bottom. But when 
Gregory threw open a pair of doors and let in a red 
subterranean Hght, Syme was still smoking, with 
one leg thrown over the other, and had not turned 
a yellow hair. 

Gregory led him down a low, vaulted passage, at 
the end of which was the red light. It was an 
enormous crimson lantern, nearly as big as a fire- 
place, fixed over a small but heavy iron door. In 
the door there was a sort of hatchway or grating, 
and on this Gregory struck five times. A heavy 
voice with a foreign accent asked him who he was. 
To this he gave the more or less unexpected reply, 


" Mr. Joseph Chamberlain." The heavy hinges 
began to move; it was obviously some kind of 

Inside the doorway the passage gleamed as if it 
were lined with a network of steel. On a second 
glance, Syme saw that the glittering pattern was 
really made up of ranks and ranks of rifles and re- 
volvers, closely packed or interlocked. 

" I must ask you to forgive me all these formali- 
ties," said Gregory ; " we have to be very strict here." 

" Oh, don't apologise," said Syme. " I know 
your passion for law and order," and he stepped 
into the passage lined with the steel weapons. 
With his long, fair hair and rather foppish frock- 
coat, he looked a singularly frail and fanciful figure 
as he walked down that shining avenue of death. 

They passed through several such passages, and 
came out at last into a queer steel chamber with 
curved walls, almost spherical in shape, but present- 
ing, with its tiers of benches, something of the ap- 
pearance of a scientific lecture-theatre. There were 
no rifles or pistols in this apartment, but round the 
walls of it were hung more dubious and dreadful 
shapes, things that looked like the bulbs of iron 
plants, or the eggs of iron birds. They were bombs, 
and the very room itself seemed like the inside of a 


bomb. Syme knocked his cigar ash off against the 
wall, and went in. 

•' And now, my dear Mr. Syme," said Gregory, 
throwing himself in an expansive manner on the 
bench under the largest bomb, " now we are quite 
cosy, so let us talk properly. Now, no human 
words can give you any notion of why I brought 
you here. It was one of those quite arbitrary emo- 
tions, like jumping off a cliff or faUing in love. Suf- 
fice it to say that you were an inexpressibly irrita- 
ting fellow, and, to do you justice, you are still. I 
would break twenty oaths of secrecy for the pleas- 
ure of taking you down a peg. That way you have 
of lighting a cigar would make a priest break the 
seal of confession. Well, you said that you were 
quite certain I was not a serious anarchist. Does 
this place strike you as being serious ? " 

" It does seem to have a moral under all its 
gaiety," assented Syme ; " but may I ask you two 
questions ? You need not fear to give me informa- 
tion, because, as you remember, you very wisely 
extorted from me a promise not to tell the police, a 
promise I shall certainly keep. So it is in mere 
curiosity that I make my queries. First of all, what 
is it really all about ? What is it you object to ? 
You want to abolish Government ? " 


" To abolish God ! " said Gregory, opening the 
eyes of a fanatic. " We do not only want to upset 
a few despotisms and police regulations ; that sort 
of anarchism does exist, but it is a mere branch of 
the Nonconformists. We dig deeper and we blow 
you higher. We wish to deny all those arbitrary 
distinctions of vice and virtue, honour and treachery, 
upon which mere rebels base themselves. The silly 
sentimentalists of the French Revolution talked of 
the Rights of Man ! We hate Rights as we hate 
Wrongs. We have abolished Right and Wrong." 

" And Right and Left," said Syme with a simple 
fagerness, " I hope you will abolish them too. 
They are much more troublesome to me." 

" You spoke of a second question," snapped 

" With pleasure," resumed Syme. " In all your 
present acts and surroundings there is a scientific 
attempt at secrecy. I have an aunt who lived over 
a shop, but thisi is the first time I have found people 
living from preference under a public-house. You 
have a heavy iron door. You cannot pass it with- 
out submitting to the humiliation of caUing yourself 
Mr. Chamberlain. You surround yourself with steel 
instruments which make the place, if I may say so, 
more impressive than homelike. May I ask why» 


after taking all this trouble to barricade yourselves 
in the bowels of the earth, you then parade your 
whole secret by talking about anarchism to every 
silly woman in Saffron Park ? " 

Gregory smiled. 

" The answer is simple," he said. " I told you I 
was a serious anarchist, and you did not believe me. 
Nor do they believe me. Unless I took them into 
this infernal room they would not believe me." 

Syme smoked thoughtfully, and looked at him 
with interest. Gregory went on. 

" The history of the thing might amuse you," he 
said. " When first I became one of the New Anarch- 
ists I tried all kinds of respectable disguises. I 
dressed up as a bishop. I read up all about 
bishops in our anarchist pamphlets, in Superstition 
the Vampire and Priests of Prey. I certainly under- 
stood from them that bishops are strange and terri- 
ble old men keeping a cruel secret from mankind. 
I was misinformed. When on my first appearing 
in episcopal gaiters in a drawing-room I cried out 
in a voice of thunder, * Down ! down ! presumptions 
human reason ! ' they found out in some way that 
I was not a bishop at all. I was nabbed at once. 
Then I made up as a millionaire ; but I defended 
Capital with so much intelligence that a fool could 


see that I was quite poor. Then I tried being a 
major. Now I am a humanitarian myself, but I 
have, I hope, enough intellectual breadth to under- 
stand the position of those who, like Nietzsche, ad- 
mire violence — the proud, mad war of Nature and 
all that, you know. I threw myself into the major. 
I drew my sword and waved it constantly. I called 
out ' Blood ! ' abstractedly, Hke a man calling for 
wine. I often said, * Let the weak perish ; it is the 
Law.' Well, well, it seems majors don't do this. I 
was nabbed again. At last I went in despair to the 
President of the Central Anarchist Council, who is 
the greatest man in Europe." 

" What is his name ? " asked Syme. 

" You would not know it," answered Gregory. 
".That is his greatness. Caesar and Napoleon put 
all their genius into being heard of, and they were 
heard of. He puts all his genius into not being 
heard of, and he is not heard of. But you cannot 
be for five minutes in the room with him without 
feeling that Caesar and Napoleon would have been 
children in his hands." 

He was silent and even pale for a moment, and 
then resumed — 

" But whenever he gives advice it is always some- 
thing as startling as an epigram, and yet as practical 


as the Bank of England. I said to him, • What dis- 
guise will hide me from the world ? What can I 
find more respectable than bishops and majors ? ' 
He looked at me with his large but indecipherable 
face. ' You want a safe disguise, do you ? You 
want a dress which will guarantee you harmless ; a 
dress in which no one would ever look for a bomb ? ' 
I nodded. He suddenly lifted his lion's voice. 
' Why, then, dress up as an anarchist, you fool ! ' he 
roared so that the room shook. ' Nobody will ever 
expect you to do anything dangerous then.' And 
he turned his broad back on me without another 
word. I took his advice, and have never regretted 
it. I preached blood and murder to those women 
day and night, and — by God! — they would let me 
wheel their perambulators." 

Syme sat watching him with some respect in his 
large, blue eyes. 

" You took mc in," he said. " It is really a smart 

Then after a pause he added — 

" What do you call this tremendous President of 
yours ? " 

" We generally call him Sunday," replied Gregory 
with simplicity. " You sec, there are seven members 
of the Central Anarchist Council, and they are named 


after days of the week. He is called Sunday, by 
some of his admirers Bloody Sunday. It is curious 
you should mention the matter, because the very 
night you have dropped in (if I may so express it) 
is the night on which our London branch, which 
assembles in this room, has to elect its own deputy 
to fill a vacancy in the Council. The gentleman 
who has for some time past played, with propriety 
and general applause, the difficult part of Thursday, 
has died quite suddenly. Consequently, we have 
called a meeting this very evening to elect a suc- 

He got to his feet and strolled across the room 
with a sort of smihng embarrassment. 

" I feel somehow as if you were my mother, 
Syme," he continued casually. •' I feel that I can 
confide anything to you, as you have promised to 
tell nobody. In fact, I will confide to you some- 
thing that I would not say in so many words to the 
anarchists who will be coming to the room in about 
ten minutes. We shall, of course, go through a 
form of election ; but I don't mind telling you that 
it is practically certain what the result will be." 
He looked down for a moment modestly. " It is 
almost a settled thing that I am to be Thurs- 


" My dear fellow," said Syme heartily, ** I con- 
gratulate you. A great career ! " 

Gregory smiled in deprecation, and walked across 
the room, talking rapidly. 

" As a matter of fact, everything is ready for me 
on this table," he said, " and the ceremony will 
probably be the shortest possible." 

Syme also strolled across to the table, and found 
lying across it a walking-stick, which turned out on 
examination to be a sword-stick, a large Colt's 
revolver, a sandwich case, and a formidable flask of 
brandy. Over the chair, beside the table, was 
thrown a heavy-looking cape or cloak. 

*' I have only to get the form of election finished," 
continued Gregory with animation, " then I snatch 
up this cloak and stick, stuff these other things into 
my pocket, step out of a door in this cavern, which 
opens on the river, where there is a steam-tug 
already waiting for me, and then — then — oh, the 
wild joy of being Thursday ! " And he clasped his 

Syme, who had sat down once more with his usual 
insolent languor, got to his feet with an unusual air 
of hesitation. 

" Why is if," he asked vaguely, " that I think you 
are quite a decent fellow ? Why do I positively like 


you, Gregory ? " He paused a moment, and then 
added with a sort of fresh curiosity, " Is it because 
you are such an ass ? " 

There was a thoughtful silence again, and then he 
cried out — 

" Well, damn it all ! this is the funniest situation 
I have ever been in in my life, and I am going to 
act accordingly. Gregory, I gave you a promise 
before I came into this place. That promise I would 
keep under red-hot pincers. Would you give me, 
for my own safety, a little promise of the same 

" A promise ? " asked Gregory, wondering. 

" Yes," said Syme very seriously, " a promise. 
I swore before God that I would not tell your secret 
to the police. Will you swear by Humanity, or 
whatever beastly thing you believe in, that you will 
not tell my secret to the anarchists ? " 

" Your secret ? " asked the staring Gregory. 
" Have you got a secret ? " 

" Yes," said Syme, " I have a secret." Then 
after a pause, " Will you swear ? " 

Gregory glared at him gravely for a few moments, 
and then said abruptly — 

" You must have bewitched me, but I feel a 
furious curiosity about you. Yes, I will swear not 


to tell the anarchists anything you tell me. But 
look sharp, for they will be here in a couple of 

Syme rose slowly to his feet and thrust his long, 
white hands into his long, grey trousers' pockets. 
Almost as he did so there came five knocks on the 
outer grating, proclaiming the arrival of the first of 
the conspirators. 

" Well," said Syme slowly, " I don't know how to 
tell you the truth more shortly than by saying that 
your expedient of dressing up as an aimless poet is 
not confined to you or your President. We have 
known the dodge for some time at Scotland 

Gregory tried to spring up straight, but he swayed 

" What do you say ? " he asked in an inhuman 

" Yes," said Syme simply, " I am a police detec- 
tive. But I think I hear your friends coming." 

From the doorway there came a murmur of " Mr. 
Joseph Chamberlain." It was repeated twice and 
thrice, and then thirty times, and the crowd of 
Joseph Chamberlains (a solemn thought) could be 
heard trampling down the corridor. 



Before one of the fresh faces could appear at 
the doorway, Gregory's stunned surprise had fallen 
from him. He was beside the table with a bound, 
and a noise in his throat like a wild beast. He 
caught up the Colt's revolver and took aim at 
Syme. Syme did not flinch, but he put up a pale 
and polite hand, 

" Don't be such a silly man," he said, with the 
effeminate dignity of a curate, " Don't you see it's 
not necessary ? Don't you see that we're both in 
the same boat ? Yes, and jolly seasick." 

Gregory could not speak, but he could not fire 
either, and he looked his question. 

" Don't you see we've checkmated each other ? " 
cried Syme, " I can't tell the police you are an 
anarchist. You can't tell the anarchists I'm a 
policeman. I can only watch you, knowing what 
you are ; you can only watch me, knowing what I 
am. In short, it's a lonely, intellectual duel, my 
head against yours. I'm a policeman deprived of 



the help of the police. You, my poor fellow, are 
an anarchist deprived of the help of that law and 
organisation which is so essential to anarchy. The 
one solitary difference is in your favour. You are 
not surrounded by inquisitive policemen ; I am 
surrounded by inquisitive anarchists. I cannot 
betray you, but I might betray myself. Come, 
come ! wait and see me betray myself. I shall do 
it so nicely." 

Gregory put the pistol slowly down, still staring 
at Syme as if he were a sea-monster. 

" I don't believe in immortality," he said at last, 
" but if, after all this, you were to break your word, 
God would make a hell only for you, to howl in 

" I shall not break my word," said Syme sternly, 
•' nor will you break yours. Here are your friends." 

The mass of the anarchists entered the room 
heavily, with a slouching and somewhat weary gait ; 
but one Httle man, with a black beard and glasses — 
a man somewhat of the type of Mr. Tim Healy — 
detached himself, and bustled forward with some 
papers in his hand. 

" Comrade Gregory," he said, " I suppose this 
man is a delegate ? " 

Gregory, taken by surprise, looked down and 


muttered the name of Syme; but Syme replied 
almost pertly — 

" I am glad to see that your gate is well enough 
guarded to make it hard for any one to be here who 
was not a delegate." 

The brow of the little man with the black beard 
was, however, still contracted with something like 

" What branch do you represent ? " he asked 

" I should hardly call it a branch," said Syme, 
laughing ; " I should call it at the very least a root." 

" What do you mean ? " 

" The fact is," said Syme serenely, " the truth is 
I am a Sabbatarian. I have been specially sent 
here to see that you show a due observance of 

The little man dropped one of his papers, and a 
flicker of fear went over all the faces of the group. 
Evidently the awful President, whose name was 
Sunday, did sometimes send down such irregular 
ambassadors to such branch meetings. 

" Well, comrade," said the man with the papers 
after a pause, " I suppose we'd better give you a 
seat in the meeting ? " 

" If you ask my advice as a friend," said 


Syme with severe benevolence, " I think you'd 

When Gregory heard the dangerous dialogue end, 
with a sudden safety for his rival, he rose abruptly 
and paced the floor in painful thought. He was, 
indeed, in an agony of diplomacy. It was clear 
that Syme's inspired impudence was likely to bring 
him out of all merely accidental dilemmas. Little 
was to be hoped from them. He could not himself 
betray Syme, partly from honour, but partly also 
because, if he betrayed him and for some reason 
failed to destroy him, the Syme who escaped w^ould 
be a Syme freed from all obligation of secrecy, a 
Syme who would simply walk to the nearest police 
station. After all, it was only one night's discus- 
sion, and only one detective who would know of it. 
He would let out as little as possible of their plans 
that night, and then let Syme go, and chance it. 

He strode across to the group of anarchists, which 
was already distributing itself along the benches. 

"I think it is time we began," he said; "the 
steam-tug is waiting on the river already. I move 
that Comrade Buttons takes the chair." 

This being approved by a show of hands, the 
little man with the papers slipped into the presiden- 
tial seat. 


" Comrades," he began, as sharp as a pistol-shot, 
*' our meeting to-night is important, though it need 
not be long. This branch has always had the 
honour of electing Thursdays for the Central 
European Council. We have elected many and 
splendid Thursdays. We all lament the sad de- 
cease of the heroic worker who occupied the post 
until last week. As you know, his services to the 
cause were considerable. He organised the great 
dynamite coup of Brighton which, under happier 
circumstances, ought to have killed everybody on 
the pier. As you also know, his death was as self- 
denying as his life, for he died through his faith in 
a hygienic mixture of chalk and water as a sub- 
stitute for milk, which beverage he regarded as 
barbaric, and as involving cruelty to the cow. 
Cruelty, or anything approaching to cruelty, re- 
volted him always. But it is not to acclaim his 
virtues that we are met, but for a harder task. It 
is difficult properly to praise his qualities, but it is 
more difficult to replace them. Upon you, com- 
rades, it devolves this evening to choose out of the 
company present the man who shall be Thurs«fey. 
If any comrade suggests a name I will put it to the 
vote. If no comrade suggests a name, I can only 
tell myself that that dear dynamiter, who is gone 


from us, has carried into the unknowable abysses 
the last secret of his virtue and his innocence." 

There was a stir of almost inaudible applause, 
such as is sometimes heard in church. Then a large 
old man, with a long and venerable white beard, 
perhaps the only real working-man present, rose 
lumberingly and said — 

" I move that Comrade Gregory be elected Thurs- 
day," and sat lumberingly down again. 

" Does any one second ? " asked the chairman. 

A little man with a velvet coat and pointed beard 

" Before I put the matter to the vote," said the 
chairman, *' I will call on Comrade Gregory to make 
a statement." 

Gregory rose amid a great rumble of applause. 
His face was deadly pale, so that by contrast his 
queer red hair looked almost scarlet. But he was 
smiling, and altogether at ease. He had made up 
his mind, and he saw his best policy quite plain in 
front of him like a white road. His best chance 
was to make a softened and ambiguous speech, such 
as would leave on the detective's mind the impres- 
sion that the anarchist brotherhood was a very mild 
affair after all. He believed in his own literary 
power, his capacity for suggesting fine shades and 


picking perfect words. He thought that with care 
he could succeed, in spite of all the people around 
him, in conveying an impression of the institution, 
subtly and dehcately false. Syme had once thought 
that anarchists, under all their bravado, were only 
playing the fool. Could he not now, in the hour 
of peril, make Syme think so again ? 

" Comrades," began Gregory, in a low but pene- 
trating voice, " it is not necessary for me to tell you 
what is my policy, for it is your policy also. Our 
belief has been slandered, it has been disfigured, it 
has been utterly confused and concealed, but it has 
never been altered. Those who talk about anarch- 
ism and its dangers go everywhere and anywhere 
to get their information, except to us, except to the 
fountain head. They learn about anarchists from 
sixpenny novels ; they learn about anarchists from 
tradesmen's newspapers ; they learn about anarch- 
ists from Ally Sloper's Half-Holiday and the 
Sporting Times. They never learn about anarchists 
from anarchists. We have no chance of denying 
the mountainous slanders which are heaped upon 
our heads from one end of Europe to another. 
The man who has always heard that we are walk- 
ing plagues has never heard our reply. I know 
that he will not hear it to-night, though my passion 


were to rend the roof. For it is deep, deep under 
the earth that the persecuted are permitted to as- 
semble, as the Christians assembled in the Cata- 
combs. But if, by some incredible accident, there 
were here to-night a man who all his life had thus 
immensely misunderstood us, I would put this ques- 
tion to him : ' When those Christians met in those 
Catacombs, what sort of moral reputation had they 
in the streets above ? What tales were told of their 
atrocities by one educated Roman to another? 
Suppose ' (I would say to him), ' suppose that we 
are only repeating that still mysterious paradox of 
history. Suppose we seem as shocking as the 
Christians because we are really as harmless as the 
Christians. Suppose we seem as mad as the Chris- 
tians because we are really as meek.' " 

The applause that had greeted the opening sen- 
tences had been gradually growing fainter, and at 
the last word it stopped suddenly. In the abrupt 
silence, the man with the velvet jacket said, in a 
high, squeaky voice — 

" I'm not meek ! " 

" Comrade Witherspoon tells us," resumed Greg- 
ory, " that he is not meek. Ah, how little he 
knows himself! His words are, indeed, extrava- 
gant ; his appearance is ferocious, and even (to an 



ordinary taste) unattractive. But only the eye of a 
friendship as deep and dehcate as mine can perceive 
the deep foundation of soHd meekness which hes 
at the base of him, too deep even for himself to 
see. I repeat, we are the true early Christians, only 
that we come too late. We are simple, as they 
were simple — look at Comrade Witherspoon. We 
are modest, as they were modest — look at me. 

We are merciful " 

" No, no ! " called out Mr. Witherspoon with the 
velvet jacket. 

" I say we are merciful," repeated Gregory furi- 
ously, " as the early Christians were merciful. Yet 
this did not prevent their being accused of 
eating human flesh. We do not eat human 

flesh " 

" Shame ! " cried Witherspoon. " Why not ? " 

" Comrade Witherspoon," said Gregory, with a 

feverish gaiety, " is anxious to know why nobody 

eats him (laughter). In our society, at any rate, 

which loves him sincerely, which is founded upon 

love " 

•' No, no ! " said Witherspoon, " down with love." 

" Which is founded upon love," repeated Gregory, 

grinding his teeth, " there will be no difficulty about 

the aims which we shall pursue as a body, or which 


I should pursue were I chosen as the representative 
of that body. Superbly careless of the slanders 
that represent us as assassins and enemies of human 
society, we shall pursue, with moral courage and 
quiet, intellectual pressure, the permanent ideals of 
brotherhood and simplicity." 

Gregory resumed his seat and passed his hand 
across his forehead. The silence was sudden and 
awkward, but the chairman rose like an automaton, 
and said in a colourless voice — 

" Does any one oppose the election of Comrade 
Gregory ? " 

The assembly seemed vague and sub-consciously 
disappointed, and Comrade Witherspoon moved 
restlessly on his seat and muttered in his thick 
beard. By the sheer rush of routine, however, the 
motion would have been put and carried. But as 
the chairman was opening his mouth to put it, 
Syme sprang to his feet and said in a small and 
quiet voice — 

" Yes, Mr. Chairman, I oppose." 

The most effective fact in oratory is an unex- 
pected change in the voice. Mr. Gabriel Syme 
evidently understood oratory. Having said these 
first formal words in a moderated tone and with a 
brief simplicity, he made his next word ring and 


volley in the vault as if one of the guns had gone 

" Comrades ! " he cried, in a voice that made 
every man jump out of his boots, " have we come 
here for this ? Do we live underground like rats 
in order to listen to talk like this ? This is talk we 
might listen to while eating buns at a Sunday- 
school treat. Do we line these walls with weapons 
and bar that door with death lest any one should 
come and hear Comrade Gregory saying to us, * Be 
good, and you will be happy,' * Honesty is the 
best policy,' and ' Virtue is its own reward ' ? 
There was not a word in Comrade Gregory's ad- 
dress to which a curate could not have listened 
with pleasure (hear, hear). But I am not a curate 
(loud cheers), and I did not listen to it with pleasure 
(renewed cheers). The man who is fitted to make 
a good curate is not fitted to make a resolute, 
forcible, and efficient Thursday (hear, hear). 

" Comrade Gregory has told us, in only too 
apologetic a tone, that we are not the enemies of 
society. But I say that we are the enemies of so- 
ciety, and so much the worse for society. We are 
the enemies of society, for society is the enemy of 
humanity, its oldest and its most pitiless enemy 
(hear, hear). Comrade Gregory has told you 


(apologetically again) that we are not murderers. 
There I agree. We are not murderers, we are 
executioners (cheers)." 

Ever since Syme had risen Gregory had sat 
staring at him, his face idiotic with astonishment. 
Now in the pause his lips of clay parted, and he 
said, with an automatic and lifeless distinctness — 

" You damnable hypocrite ! " 

Syme looked straight into those frightful eyes 
with his own pale blue ones, and said with 
dignity — • 

" Comrade Gregory accuses me of hypocrisy. He 
knows as well as I do that I am keeping all my 
engagements and doing nothing but my duty. I 
do not mince words. I do not pretend to. I say 
that Comrade Gregory is unfit to be Thursday for 
all his amiable quahties. He is unfit to be Thurs- 
day because of his amiable qualities. We do not 
want the Supreme Council of Anarchy infected 
with a maudlin mercy (hear, hear). This is no 
time for ceremonial politeness, neither is it a time 
for ceremonial modesty. 1 set myself against Com- 
rade Gregory as I would set myself against all the 
Governments of Europe, because the anarchist who 
has given himself to anarchy has forgotten modesty 
as much as he has forgotten pride (cheers). I ann 


not a man at all ; I am a cause (renewed cheers). 
I set myself against Comrade Gregory as imperson- 
ally and as calmly as I should choose one pistol 
rather than another out of that rack upon the wall ; 
and I say that rather than have Gregory and his 
milk-and-water methods on the Supreme Council, 
I would offer myself for election " 

His sentence was drowned in a deafening cataract 
of applause. The faces, that had grown fiercer and 
fiercer with approval as his tirade grew more and 
more uncompromising, were now distorted with 
grins of anticipation or cloven with delighted cries. 
At the moment when he announced himself as ready 
to stand for the post of Thursday, a roar of excite- 
ment and assent broke forth, and became uncon- 
trollable, and at the same moment Gregory sprang 
to his feet, with foam upon his mouth, and shouted 
against the shouting. 

" Stop, you blasted madmen ! " he cried, at the 
top of a voice that tore his throat. " Stop, you " 

But louder than Gregory's shouting and louder 
than the roar of the room came the voice of Syme, 
still speaking in a peal of pitiless thunder — 

" I do not go to the Council to rebut that slander 
that calls us murderers ; I go to earn it (loud and 
prolonged cheering). To the priest who says these 


men are the enemies of religion, to the judge who 
says these men are the enemies of law, to the fat 
parliamentarian who says these men are the ene- 
mies of order and public decency, to all these I will 
reply, ' You are false kings, but you are true 
prophets. I am come to destroy you, and to fulfill 
your prophecies.' " 

The heavy clamour gradually died away, but 
before it had ceased Witherspoon had jumped to 
his feet, his hair and beard all on end, and had 
said — 

" I move, as an amendment, that Comrade Syme 
be appointed to the post." 

" Stop all this, I tell you ! " cried Gregory, with 
frantic face and hands. " Stop it, it is all " 

The voice of the chairman clove his speech with 
a cold accent. 

" Does any one second this amendment? " he said. 

A tall, tired man, with melancholy eyes and an 
American chin beard, was observed on the back 
bench to be slowly rising to his feet. Gregory had 
been screaming for some time past; now there was 
a change in his accent, more shocking than any 

" I end all this ! " he said, in a voice as heavy as 
stone. " This man cannot be elected. He is a " 


" Yes," said Syme, quite motionless, " what is 

Gregory's mouth worked twice without sound ; 
then slowly the blood began to crawl back into his 
dead face. 

" He is a man quite inexperienced in our work," 
he said, and sat down abruptly. 

Before he had done so, the long, lean man with 
the American beard was again upon his feet, and 
was repeating in a high American monotone — 

" I beg to second the election of Comrade Syme." 

" The amendment will, as usual, be put first," said 
Mr. Buttons, the chairman, with mechanical rapidity. 
" The question is that Comrade Syme " 

Gregory had again sprung to his feet, panting 
and passionate. 

" Comrades," he cried out, " I am not a madman." 

" Oh, oh ! " said Mr. Witherspoon. 

" I am not a madman," reiterated Gregory, with 
a frightful sincerity which for a moment staggered 
the room, " but I give you a counsel which you can 
call mad if you like. No, I will not call it a counsel, 
for I can give you no reason for it. I will call it a 
command. Call it a mad command, but act upon 
it. Strike, but hear me ! Kill me, but obey me ! 
Do not elect this man." 


Truth is so terrible, even in fetters, that for a mo- 
ment Syme's slender and insane victory swayed like 
a reed. But you could not have guessed it from 
Syme's bleak blue eyes. He merely began — 

" Comrade Gregory commands " 

Then the spell was snapped, and one anarchist 
called out to Gregory — 

" Who are you ? You are not Sunday ; " and 
another anarchist added in a heavier voice, " And 
you are not Thursday." 

" Comrades," cried Gregory, in a voice like that 
of a martyr v^rho in an ecstasy of pain has passed 
beyond pain, " it is nothing to me whether you 
detest me as a tyrant or detest me as a slave. If 
you will not take my command, accept my 
degradation. I kneel to you. I throw myself at 
your feet. I implore you. Do not elect this man." 

" Comrade Gregory," said the chairman after a 
painful pause, " this is really not quite dignified." 

For the first time in the proceedings there was 
for a few seconds a real silence. Then Gregory fell 
back in his scat, a pale wreck of a man, and the 
chairman repeated, like a piece of clockwork sud- 
denly started again — 

" The question is that Comrade Syme be elected 
to the post of Thursday on the General Council." 


The roar rose like the sea, the hands rose like a 
forest, and three minutes afterwards Mr. Gabriel 
Syme, of the Secret Police Service, was elected to 
the post of Thursday on the General Council of the 
Anarchists of Europe. 

Every one in the room seemed to feel the tug 
waiting on the river, the sword-stick and the re- 
volver, waiting on the table. The instant the elec- 
tion was ended and irrevocable, and Syme had re- 
ceived the paper proving his election, they all sprang 
to their feet, and the fiery groups moved and mixed 
in the room. Syme found himself, somehow or 
other, face to face with Gregory, who still regarded 
him with a stare of stunned hatred. They were 
silent for many minutes. 

" You are a devil ! " said Gregory at last. 

** And you are a gentleman," said Syme with 

" It was you that entrapped me," began 
Gregory, shaking from head to foot," entrapped 
me into " 

" Talk sense," said Syme shortly. " Into what 
sort of devils' parliament have you entrapped me, 
if it comes to that ? You made me swear before I 
made you. Perhaps we are both doing what we 
think right. But what we think right is so damned 


different that there can be nothing between us in 
the way of concession. There is nothing possible 
between us but honour and death," and he pulled 
the great cloak about his shoulders and picked up 
the flask from the table. 

" The boat is quite ready," said Mn Buttons, 
bustling up. " Be good enough to step this 

With a gesture that revealed the shopwalker, he 
led Syme down a short, iron-bound passage, the 
still agonised Gregory following feverishly at their 
heels. At the end of the passage was a door, which 
Buttons opened sharply, showing a sudden blue and 
silver picture of the moonlit river, that looked like 
a scene in a theatre. Close to the opening lay a 
dark, dwarfish steam-launch, like a baby dragon with 
one red eye. 

Almost in the act of stepping on board, Gabriel 
Syme turned to the gaping Gregory. 

" You have kept your word," he said gently, with 
his face in shadow. " You are a man of honour, 
and I thank you. You have kept it even down to 
a small particular. There was one special thing you 
promised me at the beginning of the affair, and 
which you have certainly given me by the end 
of it." 


" What do you mean ? " cried the chaotic Greg- 
ory. " What did I promise you ? " 

" A very entertaining evening," said Syme, and 
he made a military salute with the sword-stick as 
the steamboat slid away. 



Gabriel Syme was not merely a detective who 
pretended to be a poet ; he was really a poet who 
had become a detective. Nor was his hatred of 
anarchy hypocritical. He was one of those who 
are driven early in life into too conservative an atti- 
tude by the bewildering folly of most revolutionists. 
He had not attained it by any tame tradition. His 
respectability was spontaneous and sudden, a re- 
bellion against rebellion. He came of a family of 
cranks, in which all the oldest people had all the 
newest notions. One of his uncles always walked 
about without a hat, and another had made an un- 
successful attempt to walk about with a hat and 
nothing else. His father cultivated art and self- 
realisation ; his mother went in for simplicity and 
hygiene. Hence the child, during his tenderer 
years, was wholly unacquainted with any drink be- 
tween the extremes of absinth and cocoa, of both 
of which he had a healthy dislike. The more his 
mother preached a more than Puritan abstinence 



the more did his father expand into a more than 
pagan latitude; and by the time the former had 
come to enforcing vegetarianism, the latter had 
pretty well reached the point of defending canni- 

Being surrounded with every conceivable kind of 
revolt from infancy, Gabriel had to revolt into some- 
thing, so he revolted into the only thing left — 
sanity. But there was just enough in him of the 
blood of these fanatics to make even his protest for 
common-sense a little too fierce to be sensible. His 
hatred of modern lawlessness had been crowned also 
by an accident. It happened that he was walking 
in a side street at the instant of a dynamite outrage. 
He had been blind and deaf for a moment, and then 
seen, the smoke clearing, the broken windows and 
the bleeding faces. After that he went about as 
usual — quiet, courteous, rather gentle ; but there was 
a spot on his mind that was not sane. He did not 
regard anarchists, as most of us do, as a handful of 
morbid men, combining ignorance with intellectual- 
ism. He regarded them as a huge and pitiless peril, 
like a Chinese invasion. 

He poured perpetually into newspapers and their 
waste-paper baskets a torrent of tales, verses and 
violent articles, warning men of this deluge of bar- 


baric denial. But he seemed to be getting no nearer 
his enemy, and, what was worse, no nearer a hving. 
As he paced the Thames embankment, bitterly bit- 
ing a cheap cigar and brooding on the advance of 
Anarchy, there was no anarchist with a bomb in his 
pocket so savage or so sohtary as he. Indeed, he 
always felt that Government stood alone and 
desperate, with its back to the wall. He was too 
quixotic to have cared for it otherwise. 

He walked on the Embankment once under a 
dark red sunset. The red river reflected the red 
sky, and they both reflected his anger. The sky, 
indeed, was so swarthy, and the light on the river 
relatively so lurid, that the water almost seemed of 
fiercer flame than the sunset it mirrored. It looked 
like a stream of literal fire winding under the vast 
caverns of a subterranean country. 

Syme was shabby in those days. He wore an old- 
fashioned black chimney-pot hat ; he was wrapped 
in a yet more old-fashioned cloak, black and ragged ; 
and the combination gave him the look of the early 
villains in Dickens and Bulwer Lytton. Also his 
yellow beard and hair were more unkempt and 
leonine than when they appeared long afterwards, 
cut and pointed, on the lawns of Saffron Park. A 
long, lean, black cigar, bought in Soho for two- 


pence, stood out from between his tightened teeth, 
and altogether he looked a very satisfactory specimen 
of the anarchists upon whom he had vowed a holy 
war. Perhaps this was why a policeman on the 
Embankment spoke to him, and said " Good 

Syme, at a crisis of his morbid fears for hu- 
manity, seemed stung by the mere stohdity of the 
automatic official, a mere bulk of blue in the 

" A good evening is it ? " he said sharply. " You 
fellows would call the end of the world a good 
evening. Look at that bloody red sun and that 
bloody river ! I tell you that if that were literally 
human blood, spilt and shining, you would still be 
standing here as solid as ever, looking out for some 
poor harmless tramp whom you could move on. 
You policemen are cruel to the poor, but I could 
forgive you even your cruelty if it were not for your 

" If we are calm," replied the policeman, " it is 
the calm of organised resistance." 

" Eh ? " said Syme, staring. 

" The soldier must be calm in the thick of the 
battle," pursued the policeman. " The composure 
of an army is the anger of a nation." 


" Gopd God, the Board Schools ! " said Syme. 
" Is this undenominational education ? " 

" No," said the policeman sadly, " I never had any 
of those advantages. The Board Schools came 
after my time. What education I had was very 
rough and old-fashioned, I am afraid." 

" Where did you have it ? " asked Syme, won- 

" Oh, at Harrow," said the policeman. 

The class sympathies which, false as they are, 
are the truest things in so many men, broke out of 
Syme before he could control them. 

" But, good Lord, man," he said, " you oughtn't 
to be a policeman ! " 

The policeman sighed and shook his head. 

** I know," he said solemnly, " I know I am not 

" But why did you join the police ? " asked Syme 
with rude curiosity. 

" For much the same reason that you abused the 
police," replied the other. " I found that there was 
a special opening in the service for those whose fears 
for humanity were concerned rather with the aber- 
rations of the scientific intellect than with the 
normal and excusable, though excessive, outbreaks 
of the human will. I trust I make myself clear." 


" If you mean that you make your opinion clear," 
said Syme, " I suppose you do. But as for making 
yourself clear, it is the last thing you do. How 
comes a man like you to be talking philosophy in a 
blue helmet on the Thames embankment ? " 

" You have evidently not heard of the latest de- 
velopment in our police system," replied the other. 
" I am not surprised at it. We are keeping it 
rather dark from the educated class, because that 
class contains most of our enemies. But you seem 
to be exactly in the right frame of mind. I think 
you might almost join us." 

" Join you in vi^hat?" asked Syme. 

" I will tell you," said the policeman slowly. 
" This is the situation : The head of one of our 
departments, one of the most celebrated detectives 
in Europe, has long been of opinion that a purely 
intellectual conspiracy would soon threaten the 
very existence of civilisation. He is certain that 
the scientific and artistic worlds are silently bound 
in a crusade against the Family and the State. He 
has, therefore, formed a special corps of policemen, 
policemen who are also philosophers. It is their 
business to watch the beginnings of this conspiracy, 
not merely in a criminal but in a controversial 
sense. I am a democrat myself, and I am fully 


aware of the value of the ordinary man in matters 
of ordinary valour or virtue. But it would obvi- 
ously be undesirable to employ the common police- 
man in an investigation which is also a heresy 

Syme's eyes were bright with a sympathetic 

" What do you do, then ? " he said. 

" The work of the philosophical policeman," 
replied the man in blue, " is at once bolder and 
more subtle than that of the ordinary detective. 
The ordinary detective goes to pot-houses to arrest 
thieves ; we go to artistic tea-parties to detect 
pessimists. The ordinary detective discovers from 
a ledger or a diary that a crime has been com- 
mitted. We discover from a book of sonnets that 
a crime will be committed. We have to trace the 
origin of those dreadful thoughts that drive men 
on at last to intellectual fanaticism and intellectual 
crime. We were only just in time to prevent the 
assassination at Hartlepool, and that was entirely 
due to the fact that our Mr. Wilks (a smart young 
fellow) thoroughly understood a triolet." 

" Do you mean," asked Syme, '• that there is 
really as much connection between crime and the 
modern intellect as all that ? " 


" You are not sufficiently democratic," answered 
the policeman, " but you were right when you said 
just now that our ordinary treatment of the poor 
criminal was a pretty brutal business. I tell you 
I am sometimes sick of my trade when I see how 
perpetually it means merely a war upon the ignorant 
and the desperate. But this new movement of 
ours is a very different affair. We deny the snob- 
bish English assumption that the uneducated are 
the dangerous criminals. We remember the Ro- 
man Emperors. We remember the great poison- 
ing princes of the Renaissance. We say that the 
dangerous criminal is the educated criminal. We 
say that the most dangerous criminal now is the 
entirely lawless modern philosopher. Compared to 
him, burglars and bigamists are essentially moral 
men ; my heart goes out to them. They accept the 
essential ideal of man ; they merely seek it wrongly. 
Thieves respect property. They merely wish the 
property to become their property that they may 
more perfectly respect it. But philosophers dislike 
property as property; they wish to destroy the 
very idea of personal possession. Bigamists re- 
spect marriage, or they would not go through the 
highly ceremonial and even ritualistic formality of 
bigamy. But philosophers despise marriage as 


marriage. Murderers respect human life ; they 
merely wish to attain a greater fulness of human 
life in themselves by the sacrifice of what seems to 
them to be lesser lives. But philosophers hate life 
itself, their own as much as other people's." 

Syme struck his hands together. 

•' How true that is," he cried. " I have felt it 
from my boyhood, but never could state the verbal 
antithesis. The common criminal is a bad man, 
but at least he is, as it were, a conditional good 
man. He says that if only a certain obstacle be 
removed — say a wealthy uncle — he is then pre- 
pared to accept the universe and to praise God. 
He is a reformer, but not an anarchist. He wishes 
to cleanse the edifice, but not to destroy it. But 
the evil philosopher is not trying to alter things, 
but to annihilate them. Yes, the modern world has 
retained all those parts of police work which are 
really oppressive and ignominious, the harrying of 
the poor, the spying upon the unfortunate. It has 
given up its more dignified work, the punishment 
of powerful traitors in the State and powerful 
heresiarchs in the Church. The moderns say we 
must not punish heretics. My only doubt is 
whether we have a right to punish anybody else." 

" But this is absurd ! " cried the policeman, clasp- 


ing his hands with an excitement uncommon in 
persons of his figure and costume, " but it is in- 
tolerable ! I don't know what you're doing, but 
you're wasting your life. You must, you shall, join 
our special army against anarchy. Their armies 
are on our frontiers. Their bolt is ready to fall. 
A moment more, and you may lose the glory of 
working with us, perhaps the glory of dying with 
the last heroes of the world." 

" It is a chance not to be missed, certainly," as- 
sented Syme, " but still I do not quite understand. 
I know as well as anybody that the modern world 
is full of lawless little men and mad little move- 
ments. But, beastly as they are, they generally 
have the one merit of disagreeing with each other. 
How can you talk of their leading one army or 
hurling one bolt. What is this anarchy ? " 

" Do not confuse it," replied the constable, " with 
those chance dynamite outbreaks from Russia or 
from Ireland, which are really the outbreaks of 
oppressed, if mistaken, men. This is a vast philo- 
sophic movement, consisting of an outer and an 
inner ring. You might even call the outer ring the 
laity and the inner ring the priesthood. I prefer to 
call the outer ring the innocent section, the inner 
ring the supremely guilty section. The outer ring 


— the main mass of their supporters — are merely 
anarchists; that is, men who beheve that rules and 
formulas have destroyed human happiness. They 
believe that all the evil results of human crime are 
the results of the system that has called it crime. 
They do not believe that the crime creates the pun- 
ishment. They believe that the punishment has 
created the crime. They believe that if a man 
seduced seven women he would naturally walk away 
as blameless as the flowers of spring. They believe 
that if a man picked a pocket he would naturally 
feel exquisitely good. These I call the innocent 

" Oh ! " said Syme. 

" Naturally, therefore, these people talk about 
* a happy time coming ' ; • the paradise of the 
future ' ; ' mankind freed from the bondage of vice 
and the bondage of virtue,' and so on. And so also 
the men of the inner circle speak — the sacred priest- 
hood. They also speak to applauding crowds of 
the happiness of the future, and of mankind freed 
at last. But in their mouths " — and the policeman 
lowered his voice — " in their mouths these happy 
phrases have a horrible meaning. They are under 
no illusions ; they are too intellectual to think that 
man upon this earth can ever be quite free of 


original sin and the struggle. And they mean 
death. When they say that mankind shall be free 
at last, they mean that mankind shall commit sui- 
cide. When they talk of a paradise without right 
or wrong, they mean the grave. They have but 
two objects, to destroy first humanity and then 
themselves. That is why they throw bombs in- 
stead of firing pistols. The innocent rank and file 
are disappointed because the bomb has not killed 
the king; but the high-priesthood are happy because 
it has killed somebody." 

" How can I join you? " asked Syme, with a sort 
of passion. 

" I know for a fact that there is a vacancy at the 
moment," said the policeman, " as I have the honour 
to be somewhat in the confidence of the chief of 
whom I have spoken. You should really come and 
see him. Or rather, I should not say see him, 
nobody ever sees him ; but you can talk to him if 
you like." 

" Telephone ? " inquired Syme, with interest. 

" No," said the policeman placidly, " he has a 
fancy for always sitting in a pitch-dark room. He 
says it makes his thoughts brighter. Do come 

Somewhat dazed and considerably excited, Syme 


allowed himself to be led to a side-door in the long 
row of buildings of Scotland Yard. Almost before 
he knew what he was doing, he had been passed 
through the hands of about four intermediate 
officials, and was suddenly shown into a room, the 
abrupt blackness of which startled him like a blaze 
of light. It was not the ordinary darkness, in which 
forms can be faintly traced ; it was like going sud- 
denly stone-blind. 

" Are you the new recruit ? " asked a heavy voice. 

And in some strange way, though there was not 
the shadow of a shape in the gloom, Syme knew 
two things : first, that it came from a man of 
massive stature ; and second, that the man had his 
back to him. 

" Are you the new recruit ? " said the invisible 
chief, who seemed to have heard all about it. " All 
right. You are engaged." 

Syme, quite swept off his feet, made a feeble fight 
against this irrevocable phrase. 

" I really have no experience," he began. 

" No one has any experience," said the other, 
"of the Battle of Armageddon." 

" But I am really unfit " 

" You are willing, that is enough," said the un- 


" Well, really," said Syme, " I don't know any 
profession of which mere willingness is the final 

" I do," said the other — " martyrs. I am con- 
demning you to death. Good-day." 

Thus it was that when Gabriel Syme came out 
again into the crimson light of evening, in his shabby 
black hat and shabby, lawless cloak, he came out a 
member of the New Detective Corps for the frustra- 
tion of the great conspiracy. Acting under the ad- 
vice of his friend the policeman (who was profes- 
sionally incHned to neatness), he trimmed his hair 
and beard, bought a good hat, clad himself in an 
exquisite summer suit of light blue-grey, with a pale 
yellow flower in the buttonhole, and, in short, be- 
came that elegant and rather insupportable person 
whom Gregory had first encountered in the little 
garden of Saffron Park. Before he finally left the 
police premises his friend provided him with a small 
blue card, on which was written, " The Last Crusade," 
and a number, the sign of his official authority. He 
put this carefully in his upper waistcoat pocket, lit a 
cigarette, and went forth to track and fight the enemy 
in all the drawing-rooms of London. Where his 
adventure ultimately led him we have already seen. 
At about half-past one on a February night he 


found himself steaming in a small tug up the silent 
Thames, armed with sword-stick and revolver, the 
duly elected Thursday of the Central Council of 

When Syme stepped out on to the steam-tug he 
had a singular sensation of stepping out into some- 
thing entirely new ; not merely into the landscape 
of a new land, but even into the landscape of a new 
planet. This was mainly due to the insane yet solid 
decision of that evening, though partly also to an 
entire change in the weather and the sky since he 
entered the little tavern some two hours before. 
Every trace of the passionate plumage of the cloudy 
sunset had been swept away, and a naked moon 
stood in a naked sky. The moon was so strong and 
full, that (by a paradox often to be noticed) it seemed 
like a weaker sun. It gave, not the sense of bright 
moonshine, but rather of a dead daylight. 

Over the whole landscape lay a luminous and un- 
natural discoloration, as of that disastrous twilight 
which Milton spoke of as shed by the sun in eclipse ; 
so that Syme fell easily into his first thought, that 
he was actually on some other and emptier planet, 
which circled round some sadder star. But the more 
he felt this glittering desolation in the moonlit land, 
the more his own chivalric folly glowed in the night 


like a great fire. Even the common things he car- 
ried with him — the food and the brandy and the 
loaded pistol — took on exactly that concrete and 
material poetry which a child feels when he takes a 
gun upon a journey or a bun with him to bed. The 
sword-stick and the brandy-flask, though in them- 
selves only the tools of morbid conspirators, became 
the expressions of his own more healthy romance. 
The sword-stick became almost the sword of chiv- 
alry, and the brandy the wine of the stirrup-cup. 
For even the most dehumanised modern fantasies 
depend on some older and simpler figure ; the ad- 
ventures may be mad, but the adventurer must be 
sane. The dragon without St. George would not 
even be grotesque. So this inhuman landscape was 
only imaginative by the presence of a man really 
human. To Syme's exaggerative mind the bright, 
bleak houses and terraces by the Thames looked as 
empty as the mountains of the moon. But even 
the moon is only poetical because there is a man in 
the moon. 

The tug was worked by two men, and with much 
toil went comparatively slowly. The clear moon that 
had lit up Chiswick had gone down by the time that 
they passed Battersea, and when they came under 
the enormous bulk of Westminster day had already 


begun to break. It broke like the splitting of great 
bars of lead, showing bars of silver ; and these had 
brightened like white fire when the tug, changing 
its onward course, turned inward to a large landing 
stage rather beyond Charing Cross. 

The great stones of the Embankment seemed 
equally dark and gigantic as Syme looked up at 
them. They were big and black against the huge 
white dawn. They made him feel that he was land- 
ing on the colossal steps of some Egyptian palace ; 
and indeed the thing suited his mood, for he was, 
in his own mind, mounting to attack the solid 
thrones of horrible and heathen kings. He leapt 
out of the boat on to one slimy step, and stood, a 
dark and slender figure, amid the enormous masonry. 
The two men in the tug put her off again and turned 
up stream. They had never spoken a word. 



At first the large stone stair seemed to Syme as 
deserted as a pyramid ; but before he reached the 
top he had rea'lised that there was a man leaning 
over the parapet of the Embankment and looking 
out across the river. As a figure he was quite con- 
ventional, clad in a silk hat and frock-coat of the 
more formal type of fashion ; he had a red flower in 
hi? buttonhole. As Syme drew nearer to him step 
by step, he did not even move a hair ; and Syme 
could come close enough to notice even in the dim, 
pale morning light that his face was long, pale and 
intellectual, and ended in a small triangular tuft of 
dark beard at the very point of the chin, all else 
being clean-shaven. This scrap of hair almost 
seemed a mere oversight ; the rest of the face was 
of the type that is best shaven — clear-cut, ascetic, 
and in its way noble. Syme drew closer and closer, 
noting all this, and still the figure did not stir. 

At first an instinct had told Syme that this was 
the man whom he was meant to meet. Then, see- 



ing that the man made no sign, he had concluded 
that he was not. And now again he had come 
back to a certainty that the man had something to 
do with his mad adventure. For the man remained 
more still than would have been natural if a stranger 
had come so close. He was as motionless as a wax- 
work, and got on the nerves somewhat in the same 
way. Syme looked again and again at the pale, 
dignified and delicate face, and the face still looked 
blankly across the river. Then he took out of his 
pocket the note from Buttons proving his election, 
and put it before that sad and beautiful face. Then 
the man smiled ; and his smile was a shock, for it 
was all on one side, going up in the right cheek and 
down in the left. 

There was nothing, rationally speaking, to scare 
any one about this. Many people have this nervous 
trick of a crooked smile, and in many it is even at- 
tractive. But in all Syme's circumstances, with the 
dark dawn and the deadly errand and the loneliness 
on the great dripping stones, there was something 
unnerving in it. There was the silent river and the 
silent man, a man of even classic face. And there 
was the last nightmare touch that his smile suddenly 
went wrong. 

The spasm of smile was instantaneous, and the 


man's face dropped at once into its harmonious 
melancholy. He spoke without further explanation 
or inquiry, like a man speaking to an old colleague. 

" If we walk up towards Leicester Square," he 
said, " we shall just be in time for breakfast. Sun- 
day always insists on an early breakfast. Have you 
had any sleep ? " 

" No," said Syme. 

" Nor have I," answered the man in an ordinary 
tone. " I shall try to get to bed after breakfast." 

He spoke with casual civility, but in an utterly 
dead voice that contradicted the fanaticism of his 
face. It seemed almost as if all friendly words 
were to him lifeless conveniences, and that his only 
life was hate. After a pause the man spoke again. 

" Of course, the Secretary of the branch told you 
everything that can be told. But the one thing 
that can never be told is the last notion of the 
President, for his notions grow like a tropical forest. 
So in case you don't know, I'd better tell you that 
he is carrying out his notion of concealing ourselves 
by not concealing ourselves to the most extraor- 
dinary lengths just now. Originally, of course, we 
met in a cell underground, just as your branch does. 
Then Sunday made us take a private room at an 
ordinary restaurant. He said that if you didn't 


seem to be hiding nobody hunted you out. Well, 
he is the only man on earth, I know ; but some- 
times I really think that his huge brain is going a 
httle mad in its old age. For now we flaunt our- 
selves before the public. We have our breakfast 
on a balcony — on a balcony, if you please — over- 
looking Leicester Square." 

" And what do the people say ? " asked Syme. 

" It's quite simple what they say," answered his 
guide. " They say we are a lot of jolly gentlemen 
who pretend they are anarchists." 

" It seems to me a very clever idea," said Syme. 

" Clever ! God blast your impudence ! Clever ! " 
cried out the other in a sudden, shrill voice which 
was as startling and discordant as his crooked smile. 
" When you've seen Sunday for a split second you'll 
leave off calling him clever." 

With this they emerged out of a narrow street, 
and saw the early sunlight filling Leicester Square. 
It will never be known, I suppose, why this square 
itself should look so alien and in some ways so con- 
tinental. It will never be known whether it was the 
foreign look that attracted the foreigners or the 
foreigners who gave it the foreign look. But on 
this particular morning the effect seemed singularly 
bright and clear. Between the open square and the 


sunlit leaves and the statue and the Saracenic out- 
lines of the Alhambra, it looked the replica of some 
French or even Spanish public place. And this effect 
increased in Syme the sensation, which in many 
shapes he had had through the whole adventure, the 
eerie sensation of having strayed into a new world. 
As a fact, he had bought bad cigars round Leicester 
Square ever since he was a boy. But as he turned 
that corner, and saw the trees and the Moorish 
cupolas, he could have sworn that he was turning 
into an unknown Place de something or other in 
some foreign town. 

At one corner of the square there projected a 
kind of angle of a prosperous but quiet hotel, the 
bulk of which belonged to a street behind. In the 
wall there was one large French window, probably 
the window of a large coffee-room ; and outside this 
window, almost literally overhanging the square, 
was a formidably buttressed balcony, big enough to 
contain a dining-table. In fact, it did contain a 
dining-table, or more strictly a breakfast-table ; and 
round the breakfast-table, glowing in the sunlight 
and evident to the street, were a group of noisy and 
talkative men, all dressed in the insolence of fashion, 
with white waistcoats and expensive buttonholes. 
Some of their jokes could almost be heard across 


the square. Then the grave Secretary gave his un- 
natural smile, and Syme knew that this boisterous 
breakfast party was the secret conclave of the 
European Dynamiters. 

Then, as Syme continued to stare at them, he 
saw something that he had not seen before. He 
had not seen it literally because it was too large to 
see. At the nearest end of the balcony, blocking 
up a great part of the perspective, was the back of 
a great mountain of a man. When Syme had seen 
him, his first thought was that the weight of him 
must break down the balcony of stone. His vast- 
ness did not lie only in the fact that he was ab- 
normally tall and quite incredibly fat. This man 
was planned enormously in his original proportions, 
hke a statue carved deliberately as colossal. His 
head, crowned with white hair, as seen from behind 
looked bigger than a head ought to be. The cars 
that stood out from it looked larger than human 
ears. He was enlarged terribly to scale ; and this 
sense of size was so staggering, that when Syme 
saw him all the other figures seemed quite suddenly 
to dwindle and become dwarfish. They were still 
sitting there as before with their flowers and frock- 
coats, but now it looked as if the big man was en- 
tertaining five children to tea. 


As Syme and the guide approached the side door 
of the hotel, a waiter came out smihng with every 
tooth in his head. 

" The gentlemen are up there, sare," he said. 
" They do talk and they do laugh at what they talk. 
They do say they will throw bombs at ze king." 

And the waiter hurried away with a napkin over 
his arm,- much pleased with the singular frivolity of 
the gentlemen up-stairs. 

The two men mounted the stairs in silence. 

Syme had never thought of asking whether the 
monstrous man who almost filled and broke the bal- 
cony was the great President of whom the others 
stood in awe. He knew it was so, with an unac- 
countable but instantaneous certainty. Syme, in- 
deed, was one of those men who are open to all the 
more nameless psychological influences in a degree 
a little dangerous to mental health. Utterly devoid 
of fear in physical dangers, he was a great deal too 
sensitive to the smell of spiritual evil. Twice al- 
ready that night little unmeaning things had peeped 
out at him almost pruriently, and given him a sense 
of drawing nearer and nearer to the headquarters 
of hell. And this sense became overpowering as 
he drew nearer to the great President. 

The form it took was a childish and yet hateful 


fancy. As he walked across the inner room towards 
the balcony, the large face of Sunday grew larger 
and larger ; and Syme was gripped with a fear that 
when he was quite close the face would be too big 
to be possible, and that he would scream aloud. 
He remembered that as a child he would not look 
at the mask of Memnon in the British Museum, 
because it was a face, and so large. 

By an effort braver than that of leaping over a 
cliff, he went to an empty seat at the breakfast-table 
and sat down. The men greeted him with good- 
humoured raillery as if they had always known him. 
He sobered himself a little by looking at their con- 
ventional coats and solid, shining coffee-pot ; then 
he looked again at Sunday. His face was very 
large, but it was still possible to humanity. 

In the presence of the President the whole com- 
pany looked sufficiently commonplace ; nothing 
about them caught the eye at first, except that by 
the President's caprice they had been dressed up 
with a festive respectability, which gave the meal 
the look of a wedding breakfast. One man indeed 
stood out at even a superficial glance. He at least 
was the common or garden Dynamiter. He wore, 
indeed, the high white collar and satin tie that were 
the uniform of the occasion ; but out of this collar 


there sprang a head quite unmanageable and quite 
unmistakable, a bewildering bush of brown hair and 
beard that almost obscured the eyes like those of a 
Skye terrier. But the eyes did look out of the 
tangle, and they were the sad eyes of some Russian 
serf. The effect of this figure was not terrible like 
that of the President, but it had every diablerie that 
can come from the utterly grotesque. If out of that 
stiff tie and collar there had come abruptly the head 
of a cat or a dog, it could not have been a more 
idiotic contrast. 

The man's name, it seemed, was Gogol ; he was a 
Pole, and in this circle of days he was called Tues- 
day. His soul and speech were incurably tragic ; 
he could not force himself to play the prosperous 
and frivolous part demanded of him by President 
Sunday. And, indeed, when Syme came in the 
President, with that daring disregard of public 
suspicion which was his policy, was actually chaff- 
ing Gogol upon his inabihty to assume conventional 

" Our friend Tuesday," said the President in a 
deep voice at once of quietude and volume, " our 
friend Tuesday doesn't seem to grasp the idea. He 
dresses up like a gentleman, but he seems to be too 
great a soul to behave like one. He insists on the 


ways of the stage conspirator. Now if a gentleman 
goes about London in a top hat and a frock-coat, 
no one need know that he is an anarchist. But if a 
gentleman puts on a top hat and a frock-coat, and 
then goes about on his hands and knees — well, he 
may attract attention. That's what Brother Gogol 
does. He goes about on his hands and knees with 
such inexhaustible diplomacy, that by this time he 
finds it quite difficult to walk upright." 

" I am not good at goncealmcnt," said Gogol 
sulkily, with a thick foreign accent ; " I am not 
ashamed of the cause." 

" Yes you are, my boy, and so is the cause of 
you," said the President good-naturedly. " You 
hide as much as anybody ; but you can't do it, you 
see, you're such an ass 1 You try to combine two 
inconsistent methods. When a householder finds a 
man under his bed, he will probably pause to note 
the circumstance. But if he finds a man under his 
bed in a top hat, you will agree with me, ni}- dear 
Tuesday, that he is not likely even to forget it. 
Now when you were found under Admiral Biffin's 
bed " 

" I am not good at deception," said Tuesday 
gloomily, flushing. 

" Right, my boy, right," said the President with 


a ponderous heartiness, " you aren't good at any- 

While this stream of conversation continued, 
Syme was looking more steadily at the men around 
him. As he did so, he gradually felt all his sense 
of something spiritually queer return. 

He had thought at first that they were all of 
common stature and costume, with the evident 
exception of the hairy Gogol. But as he looked at 
the others, he began to see in each of them exactly 
what he had seen in the man by the river, a de- 
moniac detail somewhere. That lopsided laugh, 
which would suddenly disfigure the fine face of his 
original guide, was typical of all these types. Each 
man had something about him, perceived perhaps 
at the tenth or twentieth glance, which was not 
normal, and which seemed hardly human. The 
only metaphor he could think of was this, that they 
all looked as men of fashion and presence would 
look, with the additional twist given in a false and 
curved mirror. 

Only the individual examples will express this 
half- concealed eccentricity. Syme's original cice- 
rone bore the title of Monday ; he was the Secretary 
of the Council, and his twisted smile was regarded 
with more terror than anything, except the Presi- 


dent's horrible, happy laughter, liut now that Syme 
had more space and light to observe him, there 
were other touches. His fine face was so emaciated, 
that Syme thought it must be wasted with some 
disease ; yet somehow the very distress of his dark 
eyes denied this. It was no physical ill that 
troubled him. His eyes were alive with intellectual 
torture, as if pure thought was pain. 

He was typical of each of the tribe; each man was 
subtly and differently wrong. Next to him sat 
Tuesday, the towzle-headed Gogol, a' man more 
obviously mad. Next was Wednesday, a certain 
Marquis de St. Eustache, a sufficiently characteristic 
figure. The first few glances found nothing unusual 
about him, except that he was the only man at table 
who wore the fashionable clothes as if they were 
really his own. He had a black French beard cut 
square and a black English frock-coat cut even 
squarer. But Syme, sensitive to such things, felt 
somehow that the man carried a rich atmosphere 
with him, a rich atmosphere that suffocated. It 
reminded one irrationally of drowsy odours and of 
dying lamps in the darker poems of Byron and Poe. 
With this went a sense of his being clad, not in 
lighter colours, but in softer materials; his black 
seemed richer and warmer than the black shades 


about him, as if it were compounded of profound 
colour. His black coat looked as if it were only 
black by being too dense a purple. His black 
beard looked as if it were only black by being too 
deep a blue. And in the gloom and thickness of 
the beard his dark red mouth showed sensual and 
scornful. Whatever he was he was not a French- 
man ; he might be a Jew ; he might be something 
deeper yet in the dark heart of the East, In the 
bright coloured Persian tiles and pictures showing 
tyrants hunting, you may see just those almond 
eyes, those blue-black beards, those cruel, crimson 

Then came Syme, and next a very old man. Pro- 
fessor de Worms, who still kept the chair of Friday, 
though every day it was expected that his death 
would leave it empty. Save for his intellect, he was 
in the last dissolution of senile decay. His face was 
as grey as his long grey beard, his forehead was 
lifted and fixed finally in a furrow of mild despair. 
In no other case, not even that of Gogol, did the 
bridegroom brilliancy of the morning dress express 
a more painful contrast. For the red flower in his 
buttonhole showed up against a face that was 
literally discoloured like lead ; the whole hideous 
effect was as if some drunken dandies had put their 


clothes upon a corpse. When he rose or sat down, 
which was with long labour and peril, something 
worse was expressed than mere weakness, some- 
thing indefinably connected with the horror of the 
whole scene. It did not express decrepitude merely, 
but corruption. Another hateful fancy crossed 
Syme's quivering mind. He could not help think- 
ing that whenever the man moved a leg or arm 
might fall off. 

Right at the end sat the man called Saturday, the 
simplest and the most baffling of all. He was a 
short, square man with a dark, square face clean- 
shaven, a medical practitioner going by the name 
of Bull. He had that combination of savoir-faire 
with a sort of well-groomed coarseness which is not 
uncommon in young doctors. He carried his fine 
clothes with confidence rather than ease, and he 
mostly wore a set smile. There was nothing what- 
ever odd about him, except that he wore a pair of 
dark, almost opaque spectacles. It may have been 
merely a crescendo of nervous fancy that had gone 
before, but those black discs were dreadful to Syme ; 
they reminded him of half-remembered ugly tales, 
of some story about pennies being put on the eyes 
of the dead. Syme's eye always caught the black 
glasses and the blind grin. Had the dying Profcs- 


sor worn them, or even the pale Secretary, they 
would have been appropriate. But on the younger 
and grosser man they seemed only an enigma. 
They took away the key of the face. You could 
not tell what his smile or his gravity meant. Partly 
from this, and partly because he had a vulgar 
virility wanting in most of the others, it seemed to 
Syme that he might be the wickedest of all those 
wicked men. Syme even had the thought that his 
eyes might be covered up because they were too 
frightful to see. 



Such were the six men who had sworn to destroy 
the world. Again and again Syme strove to pull 
together his common sense in their presence. 
Sometimes he saw for an instant that these notions 
were subjective, that he was only looking at ordi- 
nary men, one of whom was old, another nervous, 
another short-sighted. The sense of an unnatural 
symbolism always settled back on him again. Each 
figure seemed to be, somehow, on the borderland of 
things, just as their theory was on the borderland of 
thought. He knew that each one of these men 
stood at the extreme end, so to speak, of some wild 
road of reasoning. I le could only fancy, as in some 
old-world fable, that if a man went westward to the 
end of the world he would find something — say a 
tree — that was more or less than a tree, a tree 
possessed by a spirit ; and that if he went east to the 
end of the world he would find something else that 
was not wholly itself — a tower, perhaps, of which 
the very shape was wicked. So these figures 



seemed to stand up, violent and unaccountable, 
against an ultimate horizon, visions from the verge. 
The ends of the earth were closing in. 

Talk had been going on steadily as he took in 
the scene; and not the least of the contrasts of 
that bewildering breakfast-table was the contrast 
between the easy and unobtrusive tone of talk and 
its terrible purport. They were deep in the discus- 
sion of an actual and immediate plot. The waiter 
down-stairs had spoken quite correctly when he 
said that they were talking about bombs and kings. 
Only three days afterwards the Czar was to meet 
the President of the French Republic in Paris, and 
over their bacon and eggs upon their sunny balcony 
these beaming gentlemen had decided how both 
should die. Even the instrument was chosen ; the 
black-bearded Marquis, it appeared, was to carry 
the bomb. 

Ordinarily speaking, the proximity of this pos- 
itive and objective crime would have sobered Syme, 
and cured him of all his merely mystical tremors. 
He would have thought of nothing but the need 
of saving at least two human bodies from being 
ripped in pieces with iron and roaring gas. But 
the truth was that by this time he had begun to it 

feel a third kind of fear, more piercing and practical 


than either his moral revulsion or his social re- 
sponsibility. Very simply, he had no fear to spare 
for the French President or the Czar ; he had begun 
to fear for himself. Most of the talkers took little 
heed of him, debating now with their faces closer 
together, and almost uniformly grave, save when 
for an instant thd smile of the Secretary ran aslant 
across his face as the jagged lightning runs aslant 
across the sky. But there was one persistent thing 
which first troubled Syme and at last terrified him. 
The President was always looking at him, steadily, 
and with a great and baffling interest. The enor- 
mous man was quite quiet, but his blue eyes stood 
out of his head. And they were always fixed on 

Syme felt moved to spring up and leap over the 
balcony. When the President's eyes were on him 
he felt as if he were made of glass. He had hardly 
the shred of a doubt that in some silent and extra- 
ordinary way Sunday had found out that he was a 
spy. He looked over the edge of the balcony, and 
saw a policeman standing abstractedly just beneath, 
staring at the bright railings and the sunlit trees. 

Then there fell upon him the great temptation 
that was to torment him for many days. In the 
presence of these powerful and repulsive men, who 


were the princes of anarchy, he had almost for- 
gotten the frail and fanciful figure of the poet 
Gregory, the mere aesthete of anarchism. He 
even thought of him now with an old kindness, as 
if they had played together when children. But 
he remembered that he was still tied to Gregory by 
a great promise. He had promised never to do the 
very thing that he now felt himself almost in the 
act of doing. He had promised not to jump over 
that balcony and speak to that policeman. He 
took his cold hand off the cold stone balustrade. 
His soul swayed in a vertigo of moral indecision. 
He had only to snap the thread of a rash vow 
made to a villainous society, and all his Ufe could 
be as open and sunny as the square beneath him. 
He had, on the other hand, only to keep his 
antiquated honour, and be delivered inch by inch 
into the power of this great enemy of mankind, 
whose very intellect was a torture-chamber. When- 
ever he looked down into the square he saw the 
comfortable policeman, a pillar of common-sense 
and common order. Whenever he looked back at 
the breakfast-table he saw the President still quietly 
studying him with big, unbearable eyes. 

In all the torrent of his thought there were two 
thoughts that never crossed his mind. First, it 


never occurred to him to dmibt that the President 
and his Council could crush him if he continued to 
stand alone. The place might be public, the project 
might seem impossible. But Sunday was not the 
man who would carry himself thus easily without 
having, somehow or somewhere, set open his iron 
trap. Either by anonymous poison or sudden 
street accident, by hypnotism or by fire from hell, 
Sunday could certainly strike him. If he defied 
the man he was probably dead, either struck stiff 
there in his chair or long afterwards as by an 
innocent ailment. If he called in the police 
promptly, arrested every one, told all, and set 
against them the whole energy of England, he 
would probably escape ; certainly not otherwise. 
They were a balconyful of gentlemen overlooking 
a bright and busy square ; but he felt no more safe 
with them than if they had been a boatful of armed 
pirates overlooking an empty sea. 

There was a second thought that never came to 
him. It never occurred to him to be spiritually 
won over to the enemy. Many moderns, inured to 
a weak worship of intellect and force, might have 
wavered in their allegiance under this oppression 
of a great personality. They might have called 
Sunday the super-man. If any such creature be 


conceivable, he looked, indeed, somewhat like it, 
with his earth-shaking abstraction, as of a stone 
statue walking. He might have been called some- 
thing above man, with his large plans, which were 
too obvious to be detected, with his large face, 
which was too frank to be understood. But this 
was a kind of modern meanness to which Syme 
could not sink even in his extreme morbidity. 
Like any man, he was coward enough to fear great 
force ; but he was not quite coward enough to ad- 
mire it. 

The men were eating as they talked, and even in 
this they were typical. Dr. Bull and the Marquis 
ate casually and conventionally of the best things 
on the table — cold pheasant or Strasbourg pie. 
But the Secretary was a vegetarian, and he spoke 
earnestly of the projected murder over half a raw 
tomato and three quarters of a glass of tepid water. 
The old Professor had such slops as suggested a 
sickening second childhood. And even in this 
President Sunday preserved his curious predomi- 
nance of mere mass. For he ate like twenty men ; 
he ate incredibly, with a frightful freshness of 
appetite, so that it was like watching a sausage 
factory. Yet continually, when he had swallowed 
a dozen crumpets or drunk a quart of coffee, he 


would be found with his great head on one side 
staring at Symc. 

" I have often wondered," said the MarquiSj 
taking a great bite out of a shoe of bread and jam, 
" whether it wouldn't be better for me to do it with 
a knife. Most of the best things have been brought 
offwith a knife. And it would be a new emotion to get 
a knife into a French President and wriggle it round." 

•' You are wrong," said the Secretary, drawing 
his black brows together. " The knife was merely 
the expression of the old personal quarrel with a 
personal tyrant. Dynamite is not only our best 
tool, but our best symbol. It is as perfect a symbol 
of us as is incense of the prayers of the Christians. 
It expands ; it only destroys because it broadens ; 
even so, thought only destroys because it broadens. 
A man's brain is a bomb," he cried out, loosening 
suddenly his strange passion and striking his own 
skull with violence. " My brain feels like a bomb, 
night and day. It must expand ! It must expand ! 
A man's brain must expand, if it breaks up the 

" I don't want the universe broken up just yet," 
drawled the Marquis. " I want to do a lot of 
beastly things before I die. I thought of one yes- 
terday in bed." 


** No, if the only end of the thing is nothing/' 
said Dr. Bull with his sphinx-like smile, " it hardly 
seems worth doing." 

The old Professor was staring at the ceiUng with 
dull eyes. 

" Every man knows in his heart," he said, " that 
nothing is worth doing." 

There was a singular silence, and then the Secre- 
tary said — 

" We are wandering, however, from the point. 
The only question is how Wednesday is to strike 
the blow. I take it we should all agree with the 
original notion of a bomb. As to the actual 
arrangements, I should suggest that to-morrow 
morning he should go first of all to " 

The speech was broken off short under a vast 
shadow. President Sunday had risen to his feet, 
seeming to fill the sky above them. 

" Before we discuss that," he said in a small, 
quiet voice, " let us go into a private room, I have 
something very particular to say." 

Syme stood up before any of the others. The 
instant of choice had come at last, the pistol was 
at his head. On the pavement below he could hear 
the policeman idly stir and stamp, for the morning, 
though bright, was cold. 


A barrel-organ in the street suddenly sprang with 
a jerk into a jovial tune. Syme stood up taut, as 
if it had been a bugle before the battle. He found 
himself filled with a supernatural courage that came 
from nowhere. That jingling music seemed full of 
the vivacity, the vulgarity, and the irrational valour 
of the poor, who in all those unclean streets were 
all clinging to the decencies and the charities of 
Christendom. His youthful prank of being a police- 
man had faded from his mind ; he did not think of 
himself as the representative of the corps of gentle- 
men turned into fancy constables, or of the old 
eccentric who lived in the dark room. But he did 
feel himself as the ambassador of all these common 
and kindly people in the street, who every day 
marched into battle to the music of the barrel-organ. 
And this high pride in being human had lifted him 
unaccountably to an infinite height above the mon- 
strous men around him. For an instant, at least, 
he looked down upon all their sprawling eccen- 
tricities from the starry pinnacle of the common- 
place. He felt towards them all that unconscious 
and elementary superiority that a brave man feels 
over powerful beasts or a wise man over powerful 
errors. I le knew that he had neither the intel- 
lectual nor the physical strength of President Sun- 



day; but in that moment he minded it no more 
than the fact that he had not the muscles of a tiger 
or a horn on his nose Hke a rhinoceros. All was 
swallowed up in an ultimate certainty that the 
President was wrong and that the barrel-organ was 
right. There clanged in his mind that unanswer- 
able and terrible truism in the song of Roland — 

" Paiens ont tort et Chretiens ont droit," 

which in the old nasal French has the clang and 
groan of great iron. This liberation of his spirit 
from the load of his weakness went with a quite 
clear decision to embrace death. If the people of 
the barrel-organ could keep their old-world obliga- 
tions, so could he. This very pride in keeping his 
word was that he was keeping it to miscreants. It 
was his last triumph over these lunatics to go down 
into their dark room and die for something that 
they could not even understand. The barrel-organ 
seemed to give the marching tune with the energy 
and the mingled noises of a whole orchestra ; and 
he could hear deep and rolling, under all the trum- 
pets of the pride of life, the drums of the pride of death. 
The conspirators were already filing through the 
open window and into the rooms behind. Syme 
went last, outwardly calm, but with all his brain 


and body throbbing with romantic rhythm. The 
President led them down an irregular side stair, such 
as might be used by servants, and into a dim, cold, 
empty room, with a table and benches, like an 
abandoned board-room. When they were all in, he 
closed and locked the door. 

The first to speak was Gogol, the irreconcilable, 
who seemed bursting with inarticulate grievance. 

" Zso ! Zso!" he cried/ with an obscure excite- 
ment, his heavy Polish accent becoming almost im- 
penetrable. " You zay you nod 'ide. You zay you 
show himselves. It is all nuzzinks. Ven you vant 
talk importance you run yourselves in a dark box ! " 

The President seemed to take the foreigner's inco- 
herent satire with entire good humour. 

" You can't get hold of it yet, Gogol," he said in 
a fatherly way. " When once they have heard us 
talking nonsense on that balcony they will not care 
where we go afterwards. If we had come here first, 
we should have had the whole staff at the keyhole. 
You don't seem to know anything about mankind." 

" I die for zcm," cried the Pole in thick excite- 
ment, " and I slay zare oppressors. I care not for 
these games of gonzealment. I would zmite ze 
tyrant in ze open square." 

" I see, I see," said the President, nodding kindly 


as he seated himself at the top of a long table. 
" You die for mankind first, and then you get up 
and smite their oppressors. So that's all right. 
And now may I ask you to control your beautiful 
sentiments, and sit down with the other gentlemen 
at this table. For the first time this morning some- 
thing intelligent is going to be said," 

Syme, with the perturbed promptitude he had 
shown since the original summons, sat down first. 
Gogol sat down last, grumbling in his brown beard 
about gombromise. No one except Syme seemed 
to have any notion of the blow that was about to 
fall. As for him, he had merely the feeling of a 
man mounting the scaffold with the intention, at 
any rate, of making a good speech. 

" Comrades," said the President, suddenly rising, 
" we have spun out this farce long enough. I have 
called you down here to tell you something so sim- 
ple and shocking that even the waiters up-stairs 
(long inured to our levities) might hear some new 
seriousness in my voice. Comrades, we were dis- 
cussing plans and naming places. I propose, before 
saying anything else, that those plans and places 
should not be voted by this meeting, but should be 
left wholly in the control of some one reliable mem- 
ber. I suggest Comrade Saturday, Dr. Bull," 


They all stared at him ; then they all started in their 
seats, for the next words, though not loud, had a living 
and sensational emphasis. Sunday struck the table, 

•' Not one word more about the plans and places 
must be said at this meeting. Not one tiny detail 
more about what we mean to do must be mentioned 
in this company." 

Sunday had spent his life in astonishing his fol- 
lowers ; but it seemed as if he had never really 
astonished them until now. They all moved fever- 
ishly in their seats, except Syme. He sat stiff in 
his, with his hand in his pocket, and on the handle 
of his loaded revolver. When the attack on him 
came he would sell his life dear. He would find 
out at least if the President was mortal. 

Sunday went on smoothly — 

" You will probably understand that there is only 
one possible motive for forbidding free speech at 
this festival of freedom. Strangers overhearing us 
matters nothing. They assume that we are joking. 
But what would matter, even unto death, is this, 
tliat there should be one actually among us who is 
not of us, who knows our grave purpose, but does 
not share it, who " 

The Secretary screamed out suddenly like a 


" It can't be ! " he cried, leaping, " There 
can't " 

The President flapped his large flat hand on the 
table like the fin of some huge fish. 

" Yes," he said slowly, " there is a spy in this 
room. There is a traitor at this table. I will waste 
no more words. His name " 

Syme half rose from his seat, his finger firm on 
the trigger. 

" His name is Gogol," said the President. " He is 
that hairy humbug over there who pretends to be a 

Gogol sprang to his feet, a pistol in each hand. 
With the same flash three men sprang at his throat. 
Even the Professor made an effort to rise. But 
Syme saw little of the scene, for he was blinded 
with a beneficent darkness ; he had sunk down into 
his seat shuddering, in a palsy of passionate relief. 



" Sit down ! " said Sunday in a voice that he used 
once or twice in his life, a voice that made men 
drop drawn swords. 

The three who had risen fell away from Gogol, 
and that equivocal person himself resumed his 

" Well, my man," said the President briskly, ad- 
dressing him as one addresses a total stranger," will 
you oblige me by putting your hand in your upper 
waistcoat pocket and showing nic what you have 
there ? " 

The alleged Pole was a little pale under his tangle 
of dark hair, but he put two fingers into the pocket 
with apparent coolness and pulled out a blue strip 
of card. When Syme saw it lying on the table, he 
woke up again to the world outside him. I^'or 
although the card lay at tlic other extreme of the 
table, and he could read nothing of the inscription 
on it, it bore a startling resemblance to the blue 
card in his own pocket, the card which had been 



given to him when he joined the anti-anarchist con- 

" Pathetic Slav," said the President, " tragic child 
of Poland, are you prepared in the presence of that 
card to deny that you are in this company — shall 
we say de trop f " 

•' Right oh ! " said the late Gogol. It made every 
one jump to hear a clear, commercial and somewhat 
cockney voice coming out of that forest of foreign 
hair. It was irrational, as if a Chinaman had sud- 
denly spoken with a Scotch accent. 

" I gather that you fully understand your posi- 
tion," said Sunday. 

" You bet," answered the Pole. " I see it's a fair 
cop. All I say is, I don't believe any Pole could 
have imitated my accent like I did his." 

" I concede the point," said Sunday. " I beheve 
your own accent to be inimitable, though I shall 
practice it in my bath. Do you mind leaving your 
beard with your card ? " 

" Not a bit," answered Gogol ; and with one finger 
he ripped off the whole of his shaggy head-cover- 
ing, emerging with thin red hair and a pale, pert 
face. " It was hot," he added. 

" I will do you the justice to say," said Sunday, 
not without a sort of brutal admiration, " that you 


seem to have kept pretty cool under it. Now listen 
to me. I like you. The consequence is that it 
would annoy me for just about two and a half min- 
utes if I heard that you had died in torments. 
Well, if you ever tell the poHce or any human soul 
about us, I shall have that two and a half minutes 
of discomfort. On your discomfort I will not dwell. 
Good-day. Mind the step." 

The red-haired detective who had masqueraded 
as Gogol rose to his feet without a word, and walked 
out of the room with an air of perfect nonchalance. 
Yet the astonished Syme was able to realise that 
this ease was suddenly assumed ; for there was a 
slight stumble outside the door, which showed that 
the departing detective had not minded the step. 

" Time is flying," said the President in his gayest 
manner, after glancing at his watch, which like 
everything about him seemed bigger tlian it ought 
to be. " I must get off at once ; I have to take the 
chair at a Humanitarian meeting." 

The Secretary turned to him with working eye- 

" Would it not be better," he said a little sharply, 
" to discuss further the details of our project, now 
that the spy has left us ? " 

" No, I think not," said the President with a yawn 


like an unobtrusive earthquake. " Leave it as it is. 
Let Saturday settle it. I must be off. Breakfast 
here next Sunday." 

But the late loud scenes had whipped up the 
almost naked nerves of the Secretary, He was one 
of those men who are conscientious even in crime. 

" I must protest, President, that the thing is ir- 
regular," he said. ** It is a fundamental rule of our 
society that all plans shall be debated in full council. 
Of course, I fully appreciate your forethought when 
in the actual presence of a traitor " 

" Secretary," said the President seriously, " if 
you'd take your head home and boil it for a turnip 
it might be useful. I can't say. But it might." 

The Secretary reared back in a kind of equine 

" I really fail to understand " he began in 

high offence. 

•' That's it, that's it," said the President, nodding 
a great many times. " That's where you fail right 
enough. You fail to understand. Why, you danc- 
ing donkey," he roared, rising, " you didn't want to 
be overheard by a spy, didn't you ? How do you 
know you aren't overheard now ? " 

And with these words he shouldered his way out 
of the room, shaking with incomprehensible scorn. 


Four of the men left behind gaped after him 
without any apparent glimmering of his meaning. 
Syme alone had even a glimmering, and such as it 
was it froze him to the bone. If the last words of 
the President meant anything, they meant that he 
had not after all passed unsuspected. They meant 
that while Sunday could not denounce him like 
Gogol, he still could not trust him like the others. 

The other four got to their feet grumbling more 
or less, and betook themselves elsewhere to find 
lunch, for it was already well past midday. The 
Professor went last, very slowly and painfully. 
Syme sat long after the rest had gone, revolving his 
strange position. He had escaped a thunderbolt, 
but he was still under a cloud. At last he rose and 
made his way out of the hotel into Leicester Square. 
The bright, cold day had grown increasingly colder, 
and when he came out into the street he was sur- 
prised by a few flakes of snow. While he still 
carried the sword-stick and the rest of Gregory's 
portable luggage, he had thrown the cloak down 
and left it somewhere, perhaps on the steam-tug, 
perhaps on the balcony. Hoping, therefore, tliat 
the snow-shower might be slight, he stepped back 
out of the street for a moment and stood up under 
the doorway of a small and greasy hair-drcsscr's 


shop, the front window of which was empty, except 
for a sickly wax lady in evening dress. 
■ Snow, however, began to thicken and fall fast ; 
and Syme, having found one glance at the wax 
lady quite sufficient to depress his spirits, stared out 
instead into the white and empty street. He was 
considerably astonished to see, standing quite still 
outside the shop and staring into the window, a 
man. His top hat was loaded with snow like the 
hat of Father Christmas, the white drift was rising 
round his boots and ankles ; but it seemed as if 
nothing could tear him away from the contempla- 
tion of the colourless wax doll in dirty evening 
dress. That any human being should stand in such 
weather looking into such a shop was a matter of 
sufficient wonder to Syme ; but his idle wonder 
turned suddenly into a personal shock ; for he 
realised that the man standing there was the paralytic 
old Professor de Worms. It scarcely seemed the 
place for a person of his years and infirmities. 

Syme was ready to believe anything about the 
perversions of this dehumanised brotherhood ; but 
even he could not believe that the Professor had 
fallen in love with that particular wax lady. He 
could only suppose that the man's malady (what- 
ever it was) involved some momentary fits of 


rigidity or trance. lie was nut inclined, however, 
to feel in tliis case any very compassionate concern. 
On the contrary, he rather congratulated himself 
that the Professor's stroke and his elaborate and 
limping walk would make it easy to escape from 
him and leave him miles behind. For Syme thirsted 
first and last to get clear of the whole poisonous 
atmosphere, if only for an hour. Then he could 
collect his thoughts, formulate his poUcy, and decide 
finally whether he should or should not keep faith 
with Gregory. 

He strolled away through the dancing snow, 
turned up two or three streets, down through two 
or three others, and entered a small Soho restaurant 
for lunch. He partook reflectively of four small and 
quaint courses, drank half a bottle of red wine, and 
ended up over black coflee and a black cigar, still 
thinking. He had taken his seat in the upper room 
of the restaurant, which was full of the chink of 
knives and the chatter of foreigners. He remem- 
bered that in old days he had imagined that all 
these harmless and kindly aliens were anarchists. 
He shuddered, remembering the real thing. IJut 
even the shudder had the delightful shame of 
escape. The wine, the common food, the familiar 
place, the faces of natural and talkative men, made 


him almost feel as if the Council of the Seven Days 
had been a bad dream ; and although he knew it 
was nevertheless an objective reality, it was at least 
a distant one. Tall houses and populous streets lay 
between him and his last sight of the shameful 
seven ; he was free in free London, and drinking 
wine among the free. With a somewhat easier 
action, he took his hat and stick and strolled down 
the stair into the shop below. 

When he entered that lower room he stood 
stricken and rooted to the spot. At a small table, 
close up to the blank window and the white street 
of snow, sat the old anarchist Professor over a glass 
of milk, with his lifted livid face and pendent eye- 
lids. For an instant Syme stood as rigid as the 
stick he leant upon. Then with a gesture as of 
blind hurry, he brushed past the Professor, dashing 
open the door and slamming it behind him, and 
stood outside in the snow. 

" Can that old corpse be following me ? " he 
asked himself, biting his yellow moustache. " I 
stopped too long up in that room, so that even 
such leaden feet could catch me up. One comfort 
is, with a little brisk walking I can put a man like 
that as far away as Timbuctoo. Or am I too fanci- 
ful ? Was he really following me ? Surely Sunday 


would not be such a fool as to send a lame 
man ? " 

He set off at a smart pace, twisting and whirling 
his stick, in the direction of Covent Garden. As 
he crossed the great market the snow increased, 
growing bhnding and bewildering as the afternoon 
began to darken. The snowflakes tormented him 
like a swarm of silver bees. Getting into his eyes 
and beard, they added their unremitting futility 
to his already irritated nerves ; and by the time 
that he had come at a swinging pace to the begin- 
ning of Fleet Street, he lost patience, and finding a 
Sunday tea-shop, turned into it to take shelter. He 
ordered another cup of black coffee as an excuse. 
Scarcely had he done so, when Professor de Worms 
hobbled heavily into the shop, sat down with diffi- 
culty and ordered a glass of milk. 

Syme's walking-stick had fallen from his hand 
with a great clang, which confessed the concealed 
steel. But the Professor did not look round. 
Syme, who was commonly a cool character, was 
hterally gaping as a rustic gapes at a conjuring 
trick. He had seen no cab following ; • he had 
heard no wheels outside the shop ; to all mortal 
appearances the man had come on foot. But the 
old man could only walk like a snail, and Syme 


had walked like the wind. He started up and 
snatched his stick, half crazy with the contradiction 
in mere arithmetic, and swung out of the swinging 
doors, leaving his coffee untasted. An omnibus 
going to the Bank went rattling by with an unusual 
rapidity. He had a violent run of a hundred yards 
to reach it ; but he managed to spring, swaying 
upon the splash-board, and pausing for an instant 
to pant, he climbed on to the top. When he had 
been seated for about half a minute, he heard be- 
hind him a sort of heavy and asthmatic breathing. 

Turning sharply, he saw rising gradually higher 
and higher up the omnibus steps a top hat soiled 
and dripping with snow, and under the shadow of 
its brim the short-sighted face and shaky shoulders 
of Professor de Worms. He let himself into a seat 
with characteristic care, and wrapped himself up to 
the chin in the mackintosh rug. 

Every movement of the old man's tottering 
figure and vague hands, every uncertain gesture 
and panic-stricken pause, seemed to put it beyond 
question that he was helpless, that he was in the 
last imbecility of the body. He moved by inches, 
he let himself down with little gasps of caution. 
And yet, unless the philosophical entities called 
time and space have no vestige even of a practical 


existence, it appeared quite unquestionable that he 
had run after the omnibus. 

Syme sprang erect upon the rocking car, and 
after staring wildly at the wintry sky, that grew 
gloomier every moment, he ran down the steps, 
lie had repressed an elemental impulse to leap over 
the side. 

Too bewildered to look back or to reason, he 
rushed into one of the little courts at the side of 
Fleet Street as a rabbit rushes into a hole. He had 
a vague idea, if this incomprehensible old Jack-in- 
thc box was really pursuing him, that in that laby- 
rinth of little streets he could soon throw him off 
the scent. He dived in and out of those crooked 
lanes, which were more like cracks than thorough- 
fares ; and by the time that he had completed about 
twenty alternate angles and described an unthink- 
able polygon, he paused to listen for any sound of 
pursuit. There was none; there could not in any 
case have been much, for the little streets were 
thick with the soundless snow. Somewhere behind 
Red Lion Court, however, he noticed a place where 
some energetic citi/.en had cleared away the snow 
for a space of about twent}- )-ards, leaving the wet, 
glistening cobblestones. He thought little of this 
as he passed it, only plunging into yet another 


arm of the maze. But when a few hundred yards 
farther on he stood still again to listen, his heart 
stood still also, for he heard from that space of 
rugged stones the clinking crutch and labouring 
feet of the infernal cripple. 

The sky above was loaded with the clouds of 
snow, leaving London in a darkness and oppression 
premature for that hour of the evening. On each 
side of Syme the walls of the alley were blind and 
featureless ; there was no little window or any kind 
of eye. He felt a new impulse to break out of this 
hive of houses, and to get once more into the open 
and lamp-lit street. Yet he rambled and dodged 
for a long time before he struck the main thorough- 
fare. When he did so, he struck it much farther 
up than he had fancied. He came out into what 
seemed the vast and void of Ludgate Circus, and 
saw St. Paul's Cathedral sitting in the sky. 

At first he was startled to find these great roads 
so empty, as if a pestilence had swept through the 
city. Then he told himself that some degree of 
emptiness was natural ; first because the snow-storm 
was even dangerously deep, and secondly because 
it was Sunday. And at the very word Sunday he 
bit his lip ; the word was henceforth for him like 
some indecent pun. Under the white fog of snow 


high up in the heaven the whole atmosphere of the 
city was turned to a very queer kind of green twi- 
hght, as of men under the sea. The scaled and 
sullen sunset behind the dark dome of St. Paul's 
had in it smoky and sinister colours — colours of 
sickly green, dead red or decaying bronze, that 
were just bright enough to emphasise the solid 
whiteness of the snow. Hut right up against these 
dreary colours rose the black bulk of the cathedral; 
and upon the top of the cathedral was a random 
splash and great stain of snow, still clinging as to 
an Alpine peak. It had fallen accidentally, but 
just so fallen as to half drape the dome from its 
very topmost point, and to pick out in perfect 
silver the great orb and the cross. When Syme 
saw it he suddenly straightened himself, and made 
with his sword-stick an involuntarj' salute. 

He knew that that evil figure, his shadow, was 
creeping quickly or slowly behind him, and he did 
not care. It seemed a symbol of human faith and 
valour that while the skies were darkening that 
high place of the earth was bright. The devils 
might have captured heaven, but they had not yet 
captured the cross. He had a new impulse to tear 
out the secret of this dancing, jumping and pursu- 
ing paralytic ; and at the entrance of the court as 


it opened upon the Circus he turned, stick in hand, 
to face his pursuer. 

Professor de Worms came slowly round the 
corner of the irregular alley behind him, his un- 
natural form outUned against a lonely gas-lamp, 
irresistibly recalling that very imaginative figure in 
the nursery rhymes, " the crooked man who went 
a crooked mile." He really looked as if he had 
been twisted out of shape by the tortuous streets 
he had been threading. He came nearer and 
nearer, the lamplight shining on his lifted spec- 
tacles, his lifted, patient face. Syme waited for him 
as St. George waited for the dragon, as a man waits 
for a final explanation or for death. And the old 
Professor came right up to him and passed him like 
a total stranger, without even a blink of his mourn- 
ful eyelids. 

There was something in this silent and unex- 
pected innocence that left Syme in a final fury. 
The man's colourless face and manner seemed to 
assert that the whole following had been an acci- 
dent. Syme was galvanised with an energy that 
was something between bitterness and a burst of 
boyish derision. He made a wild gesture as if to 
knock the old man's hat off, called out something 
like " Catch me if you can," and went racing away 


across the white, open Circus. Concealment was 
impossible now ; and looking back over his shoulder, 
he could see the black figure of the old gentleman 
coming after him with long, swinging strides like a 
man winning a mile race. But the head upon that 
bounding body was still pale, grave and pro- 
fessional, like the head of a lecturer upon the body 
of a harlequin. 

This outrageous chase sped across Ludgate Circus, 
up Ludgate Hill, round St. Paul's Cathedral, along 
Cheapside, Syme remembering all the nightmares 
he had ever known. Then Syme broke away to- 
wards the river, and ended almost down by the 
docks. He saw the yellow panes of a low, lighted 
pubhc-house, flung himself into it and ordered beer. 
It was a foul tavern, sprinkled with foreign sailors, 
a place where opium might be smoked or knives 

A moment later Professor de Worms entered the 
place, sat down carefully, and asked for a glass of 



When Gabriel Syme found himself finally estab- 
ished in a chair, and opposite to him, fixed and final 
also, the lifted eyebrows and leaden eyelids of the 
Professor, his fears fully returned. This incompre- 
hensible man from the fierce council, after all, had 
certainly pursued him. If the man had one char- 
acter as a paralytic and another character as a pur- 
suer, the antithesis might make him more interesting, 
but scarcely more soothing. It would be a very 
small comfort that he could not find the Professor 
out, if by some serious accident the Professor should 
find him out. He emptied a whole pewter pot of 
ale before the Professor had touched his milk. 

One possibility, however, kept him hopeful and 
yet helpless. It was just possible that this escapade 
signified something other than even a shght suspicion 
of him. Perhaps it was some regular form or sign. 
Perhaps the foolish scamper was some sort of friendly 
signal that he ought to have understood. Perhaps 
it was a ritual. Perhaps the new Thursday was 



always chased along Cheapsidc, as the new Lord 
Mayor is always escorted along it. He was just 
selecting a tentative inquiry, when the old Professor 
opposite suddenly and simply cut him short. Be- 
fore Syme could ask the first diplomatic question, 
the old anarchist had asked suddenly, without any 
sort of preparation — 

" Are you a policeman ? " 

Whatever else Syme had expected, he had never 
expected anything so brutal and actual as this. 
Even his great presence of mind could only manage 
a reply with an air of rather blundering jocu- 

" A policeman ? " he said, laughing vaguely. 
"Whatever made you think of a policeman in con- 
nection with me? " 

" The process was simple enough," answered the 
Professor patiently. " I thought you looked like a 
policeman. I think so now." 

" Did I take a policeman's hat by mistake out of 
tlie restaurant?" asked Syme, smiling wildly. 
" Have I by any chance got a number stuck on to 
rae somewhere ? Have my boots got that watchful 
look ? Why must I be a policeman ? Do, do let 
me be a postman," 

The old Professor shook his head with a gravity 


that gave no hope, but Syme ran on with a feverish 

" But perhaps I misunderstood the dehcacies of 
your German philosophy. Perhaps pohceman is a 
relative term. In an evolutionary sense, sir, the 
ape fades so gradually into the policeman, that I 
myself can never detect the shade. The monkey is 
only the policeman that may be. Perhaps a maiden 
lady on Clapham Common is only the policeman 
that might have been. I don't mind being the 
policeman that might have been. I don't mind 
being anything in German thought." 

" Are you in the police service ? " said the old 
man, ignoring all Syme's improvised and desperate 
raillery. " Are you a detective ? " 

Syme's heart turned to stone, but his face never 

•' Your suggestion is ridiculous," he began. 
"Why on earth " 

The old man struck his palsied hand passionately 
on the rickety table, nearly breaking it. 

•' Did you hear me ask a plain question, you 
paltering spy ? " he shrieked in a high, crazy voice. 
" Are you, or are you not, a police detective ? " 

" No ! " answered Syme, like a man standing on 
the hangman's drop. 


" You swear it," said the old man, leaning across 
to him, iiis dead face becoming as it were loath- 
somely alive. " You swear it ! You swear it ! If 
you swear falsely, will you be damned ? Will you 
be sure that the devil dances at your funeral ? Will 
you see that the nightmare .sits on your grave? 
Will there really be no mistake ? You are an an- 
archist, you are a dj-nainitcr! Above all, you are 
not in any sense a detective? You are not in the 
British police ? " 

He leant his angular elbow far across the table, 
and put up his large loose hand like a flap to his 

" I am not in the British police," said Syme with 
insane calm. 

Professor dc Worms fell back in his chair with a 
curious air of kindly collapse. 

"That's a pity," lie said, " because I am." 

Syme sprang up straight, sending back the bench 
behind him with a crash. 

"Because you are what?" he said thickly. 
" You are what ? " 

" I am a policeman," said the Professor with his 
first broad smile, and beaming through his spec- 
tacles. " But as you think policeman only a relative 
term, of course I have nothing to do with you. I 


am in the British poHce force ; but as you tell me 
you are not in the British pohce force, I can only 
say that I met you in a dynamiter's club. I sup- 
pose I ought to arrest you." And with these 
words he laid on the table before Syme an exact 
facsimile of the blue card which Syme had in his 
own waistcoat pocket, the symbol of his power 
from the police. 

Syme had for a flash the sensation that the 
cosmos had turned exactly upside down, that all 
trees were growing downwards and that all stars 
were under his feet. Then came slowly the oppo- 
site conviction. For the last twenty-four hours the 
cosmos had really been upside down, but now the 
capsized universe had come right side up again. 
This devil from whom he had been fleeing all day 
was only an elder brother of his own house, who on 
the other side of the table lay back and laughed at 
him. He did not for the moment ask any ques- 
tions of detail ; he only knew the happy and silly 
fact that this shadow, which had pursued him with 
an intolerable oppression of peril, was only the 
shadow of a friend trying to catch him up. He 
knew simultaneously that he was a fool and a free 
man. For with any recovery from morbidity there 
must go a certain healthy humiliation. There 


comes a certain point in such conditions when only 
tliree things are possible : first a perpetuation of 
Satanic pride, secondly tears, and third laughter. 
Syme's egotism held hard to the first course for a 
few seconds, and then suddenly adopted the third. 
Taking his own blue police ticket from his own 
waistcoat pocket, he tossed it on to the table ; then 
he flung his head back until his spike of yellow 
beard almost pointed at the ceiUng, and shouted 
with a barbaric laughter. 

Even in that close den, perpetually filled with the 
din of knives, plates, cans, clamorous voices, sud- 
den struggles and stampedes, there was something 
Homeric in Syme's mirth which made many half- 
drunken men look round. 

•' What yer laughing at, guv'nor ? " asked one 
wondering labourer from the docks. 

" At myself," answered Syme, and went off again 
into the agony of his ecstatic reaction. 

" Pull yourself together," said the Professor, " or 
you'll get hysterical. Have some more beer. I'll 
join you." 

" You haven't drunk your milk," said Syme. 

" My milk ! " said the other, in tones of withering 
and unfathomable contempt, " my milk ! Do you 
think I'd look at the beastly stuff when I'm out of 


sight of the bloody anarchists ? We're all Chris- 
tians in this room, though perhaps," he added, 
glancing around at the reeling crowd, " not strict 
ones. Finish my milk ? Great blazes ! yes, I'll 
finish it right enough ! " and he knocked the 
tumbler off the table, making a crash of glass 
and a splash of silver fluid. 

Syme was staring at him with a happy curiosity. 

" I understand now," he cried ; " of course, 
you're not an old man at all." 

" I can't take my face off here," replied Professor 
de Worms. " It's rather an elaborate make-up. 
As to whether I'm an old man, that's not for me 
to say. I was thirty- eight last birthday." 

" Yes, but I mean," said Syme impatiently, 
** there's nothing the matter with you." 

" Yes," answered the other dispassionately, " I 
am subject to colds." 

Syme's laughter at all this had about it a wild 
weakness of relief. He laughed at the idea of the 
paralytic Professor being really a young actor 
dressed up as if for the footlights. But he felt 
that he would have laughed as loudly if a pepper- 
pot had fallen over. 

The false Professor drank and wiped his false 


" Did you know," he asked, " that that man 
Gogol was one of us ? " 

" 1 ? No, I didn't know it," answered Syme in 
some suqDrise. " But didn't you ? " 

" I knew no more than the dead," rephed the 
man who called himself de Worms. " I thought 
the President was talking about me, and I rattled 
in my boots." 

" And I thought he was talking about me," said 
Syme, with his rather reckless laughter. " I had 
my hand on my revolver all the time." 

" So had I," said the Professor grimly; " so had 
Gogol evidently." 

Syme struck the table with an exclamation. 

" Why, there were three of us there ! " he cried. 
" Three out of seven is a fighting number. If we 
had only known that we were three ! " 

The face of Professor de Worms darkened, and 
he did not look up. 

" We were three," he said. " If we had been 
three hundred we could still have done nothing." 

" Not if we were three hundred against four ? " 
asked Syme, jeering rather boisterously. 

" No," said the Professor with sobriety, " not if 
we were three hundred against Sunday." 

And the mere name struck Syme cold and 


serious ; his laughter had died in his heart before it 
could die on his lips. The face of the unfor- 
gettable President sprang into his mind as startling 
as a coloured photograph, and he remarked this 
difference between Sunday and all his satellites, that 
their faces, however fierce or sinister, became 
gradually blurred by memory like other human 
faces, whereas Sunday's seemed almost to grow 
more actual during absence, as if a man's painted 
portrait should slowly come alive. 

They were both silent for a measure of moments, 
and then Syme's speech came with a rush, hke the 
sudden foaming of champagne. 

" Professor," he cried, '• it is intolerable. Are 
you afraid of this man ? " 

The Professor lifted his heavy lids, and gazed at 
Syme with large, wide-open, blue eyes of an al- 
most ethereal honesty. 

" Yes, I am," he said mildly. " So are you." 

Syme was dumb for an instant. Then he rose to 
his feet erect, like an insulted man, and thrust the 
chair away from him. 

" Yes," he said in a voice indescribable, " you are 
right. I am afraid of him. Therefore I swear by 
God that I will seek out this man whom I fear 
until I find him, and strike him on the mouth. If 


heaven were his throne and the earth his footstool, 
I swear that I would pull him down." 

" How ? " asked the staring Professor. " Why ? " 

" Because I am afraid of him," said Syme ; " and 
no man should leave in the universe anything of 
which he is afraid." 

De Worms blinked at him with a sort of blind 
wonder. He made an effort to speak, but Syme 
went on in a low voice, but with an undercurrent 
of inhuman exaltation — 

" Who would condescend to strike down the mere 
things that he docs not fear ? Who would debase 
himself to be merely brave, like any common prize- 
fighter? Who would stoop to be fearless — like a 
tree? Fight the thing that you fear. You remem- 
ber the old tale of the English clergyman who gave 
the last rites to the brigand of Sicily, and how on 
his death-bed the great robber said, ' I can gi\-e you 
no money, but I can give you advice for a lifetime: 
your thumb on the blade, and strike upwards.' So I 
say to you, strike upwards, if you strike at the stars." 

The other looked at the ceiling, one of the tricks 
of his pose. 

" Sunday is a fixed star," he said. 

" You shall see him a falling star," said Syme, 
and put on his hat. 


The decision of his gesture drew the Professor 
vaguely to his feet. 

" Have you any idea," he asked, with a sort of 
benevolent bewilderment, " exactly where you are 
going ? " 

" Yes," replied Syme shortly, ** I am going to 
prevent this bomb being thrown in Paris." 

" Have you any conception how ? " inquired the 

" No," said Syme with equal decision. 

" You remember, of course," resumed the soi- 
disant de Worms, pulling his beard and looking out 
of the window, " that when we broke up rather 
hurriedly the whole arrangements for the atrocity 
were left in the private hands of the Marquis and 
Dr. Bull. The Marquis is by this time probably 
crossing the Channel. But where he will go and 
what he will do it is doubtful whether even the 
President knows ; certainly we don't. The only 
man who does know is Dr. Bull." 

" Confound it ! " cried Syme. " And we don't 
know where he is." 

" Yes," said the other in his curious, absent- 
minded way, " I know where he is myself." 

" Will you tell me ? " asked Syme with eager 


" I will take you there," said the Professor, and 
took down his own hat from a peg. 

Syme stood looking at him with a sort of rigid 

" What do you mean ? " he asked sharply. " Will 
you join me ? Will you take the risk ? " 

" Young man," said the Professor pleasantly, '♦ I 
am amused to observe that you think I am a coward. 
As to that I will say only one word, and that shall 
be entirely in the manner of your own philosophical 
rhetoric. You think that it is possible to pull down 
the President. I know that it is impossible, and I 
am going to try it," and opening the tavern door, 
which let in a blast of bitter air, they went out 
together into the dark streets by the docks. 

Most of the snow was melted or trampled to mud, 
but here and there a clot of it still showed grey 
rather than white in the gloom. The small streets 
were sloppy and full of pools, which reflected the 
flaming lamps irregularly, and by accident, like 
fragments of some other and fallen world. Syme 
felt almost dazed as he stepped through this grow- 
ing confusion of lights and shadows ; but his com- 
panion walked on with a certain briskness towards 
where, at the end of the street, an inch or two of 
the lamplit river looked like a bar of flame. 



" Where are you going ? " Syme inquired. 

" Just now," answered the Professor, " I am going 
just round the corner to see whether Dr. Bull has 
gone to bed. He is hygienic, and retires early." 

" Dr. Bull ! " exclaimed Syme. " Does he live 
round the corner ? " 

" No," answered his friend. " As a matter of 
fact he lives some way off, on the other side of the 
river, but we can tell from here whether he has gone 
to bed." 

Turning the corner as he spoke, and facing the 
dim river, flecked with flame, he pointed with his 
stick to the other bank. On the Surrey side at 
this point there ran out into the Thames, seeming 
almost to overhang it, a bulk and cluster of those 
tall tenements, dotted with lighted windows, and 
rising like factory chimneys to an almost insane 
height. Their special poise and position made one 
block of buildings especially look like a Tower of 
Babel with a hundred eyes. Syme had never seen 
any of the sky-scraping buildings in America, so 
he could only think of the buildings in a dream. 

Even as he stared, the highest light in this innu- 
merably lighted turret abruptly went out, as if this 
black Argus had winked at him with one of his in- 
numerable eyes. 


Professor dc Worms swung round on his heel, 
and struck his stick against his boot. 

" We are too late," he said, " the hygienic Doctor 
has gone to bed." 

" What do you mean ? " asked Symc. " Does he 
hvc over there, then ? " 

" Yes," said de Worms, " behind that particular 
window which you can't sec. Come along and get 
some dinner. We must call on him to-morrow 

Without further parley, he led the way through 
several by-ways until they came out into the flare 
and clamour of the East India Dock Road. The 
Professor, who seemed to know his way about the 
neighbourhood, proceeded to a place where the line 
of lighted shops fell back into a sort of abrupt 
twilight and quiet, in which an old white inn, all 
out of repair, stood back some twenty feet from the 

" You can find good English inns left by accident 
everywhere, like fossils," explained the Professor. 
" I once found a decent place in the West End." 

" I suppose," said Syme, smiling, " that this is the 
corresponding decent place in the East End? " 

" It is," said the Professor reverently, and went in. 

In that place they dined and slept, both very 


thoroughly. The beans and bacon, which these un- 
accountable people cooked well, the astonishing 
emergence of Burgundy from their cellars, crowned 
Syme's sense of a new comradeship and comfort. 
Through all this ordeal his root horror had been 
isolation, and there are no words to express the 
abyss between isolation and having one ally. It 
may be conceded to the mathematicians that four is 
twice two. But two is not twice one ; two is two 
thousand times one. That is why, in spite of a 
hundred disadvantages, the world will always return 
to monogamy. 

Syme was able to pour out for the first time the 
whole of his outrageous tale, from the time when 
Gregory had taken him to the little tavern by the 
river. He did it idly and amply, in a luxuriant 
monologue, as a man speaks with very old friends. 
On his side, also, the man who had impersonated 
Professor de Worms was not less communicative. 
His own story was almost as silly as Syme's. 

" That's a good get-up of yours," said Syme, 
draining a glass of Macon; " a lot better than old 
Gogol's. Even at the start I thought he was a bit 
too hairy." 

" A difference of artistic theory," replied the 
Professor pensively. " Gogol was an idealist. He 


made up as the abstract or platonic ideal of an 
anarchist. But I am a rcaHst. I am a portrait 
painter. But, indeed, to say that I am a portrait 
painter is an inadequate expression. I am a 

" I don't understand you," said Syme. 

" I am a portrait," repeated the Professor. " I 
am a portrait of the celebrated Professor de Worms, 
who is, I believe, in Naples." 

" You mean you are made up like him," said 
Syme. " But doesn't he know that you are taking 
his nose in vain ? " 

" He knows it right enough," replied his friend 

" Then why doesn't he denounce you ? " 

" I have denounced him," answered the Professor. 

" Do explain yourself," said Syme. 

" With pleasure, if you don't mind hearing my 
story," replied the eminent foreign philosopher. " I 
am by profession an actor, and my name is Wilks. 
When I was on the stage I mixed with all sorts of 
Bohemian and blackguard company. Sometimes I 
touched the edge of the turf, sometimes the riflTraff 
of the arts, and occasionally the political refugee. 
In some den of exiled dreamers I was introduced to 
the great German Nihilist philosopher. Professor de 


Worms. I did not gather much about him beyond 
his appearance, which was very disgusting, and 
which I studied carefully. I understood that he 
had proved that the destructive principle in the 
universe was God ; hence he insisted on the need 
for a furious and incessant energy, rending all 
things in pieces. Energy, he said, was the All. 
He was lame, short-sighted, and partially paralytic. 
When I met him I was in a frivolous mood, and I 
disliked him so much that I resolved to imitate him. 
If I had been a draughtsman I would have drawn a 
caricature. I was only an actor, I could only act a 
caricature. I made myself up into what was meant 
for a wild exaggeration of the old Professor's dirty 
old self. When I went into the room full of his 
supporters I expected to be received with a roar of 
laughter, or (if they were too far gone) with a roar 
of indignation at the insult. I cannot describe the 
surprise I felt when my entrance was received with 
a respectful silence, followed (when I had first 
opened my lips) with a murmur of admiration. 
The curse of the perfect artist had fallen upon me. 
I had been too subtle, I had been too true. They 
thought I really was the great Nihilist Professor. I 
was a healthy-minded young man at the time, and 
I confess that it was a blow. Before I could fully 


recover, however, two or three of these admirers 
ran up to me radiating indignation, and told me that 
a public insult had been put upon me in the next 
room. I inquired its nature. It seemed that an 
impertinent fellow had dressed himself up as a pre- 
posterous parody of myself. I had drunk more 
champagne than was good for me, and in a flash of 
folly I decided to see the situation through. Con- 
sequently it was to meet the glare of the company 
and my own lifted eyebrows and freezing eyes that 
the real Professor came into the room. 

" I need hardly say there was a collision. The 
pessimists all round me looked anxiously from one 
Professor to the other Professor to see which was 
really the more feeble. But I won. An old man 
in poor health, like my rival, could not be expected 
to be so impressively feeble as a young actor in the 
prime of life. You see, he really had paralysis, and 
working within this definite limitation, he couldn't 
be so jolly paralj'tic as I was. Then he tried to 
blast my claims intellectually. I countered that by 
a very simple dodge. Whenever he said something 
that nobody but he could understand, I replied with 
something which I could not even understand my- 
self. ' I don't fancy,' he said, ' that )'Ou could have 
worked out the principle that evolution is only nc- 


gation, since there inheres in it the introduction of 
lacunae, which are an essential of differentiation.' I 
rephed quite scornfully, * You read all that up in 
Pinckwerts; the notion that involution functioned 
eugenically was exposed long ago by Glumpe.' It 
is unnecessary for me to say that there never were 
such people as Pinckwerts and Glumpe. But the 
people all round (rather to my surprise) seemed to 
remember them quite well, and the Professor, find- 
ing that the learned and mysterious method left him 
rather at the mercy of an enemy slightly deficient 
in scruples, fell back upon a more popular form of 
wit. • I see,' he sneered, * you prevail like the false 
pig in yEsop.' ' And you fail,' I answered, smiHng, 
' like the hedgehog in Montaigne.' Need I say that 
there is no hedgehog in Montaigne ? * Your clap- 
trap comes off,' he said ; * so would your beard.' I 
had no intelligent answer to this, which was quite 
true and rather witty. But I laughed heartily, an- 
swered, ' Like the Pantheist's boots,' at random, 
and turned on my heel with all the honours 
of victory. The real Professor was thrown out, 
but not with violence, though one man tried very 
patiently to pull off his nose. He is now, I be- 
lieve, received everywhere in Europe as a de- 
lightful impostor. His apparent earnestness and 


anger you sec, make him all the more enter- 

" Well," said Syme, " I can understand your put- 
ting on his dirty old beard for a night's practical 
joke, but I don't understand your never taking it 
off again." 

" That is the rest of the story," said the imper- 
sonator. " When I myself left the company, fol- 
lowed by reverent applause, I went limping down 
the dark street, hoping that I should soon be far 
enough away to be able to walk like a human being. 
To my astonishment, as I was turning the corner, 
I felt a touch on the shoulder, and turning, found 
myself under the shadow of an enormous policeman. 
He told me I was wanted. I struck a sort of para- 
lytic attitude, and cried in a high German accent, 

• Yes, I am wanted — by the oppressed of tlic world. 
You are arresting me on the charge of being the 
great anarchist, Professor de Worms.' The police- 
man impassively consulted a paper in his hand. 

* No, sir,' he said civilly, • at, not exactly, sir. 
I am arresting you on the charge of not being the 
celebrated anarchist, Professor de Worms.' This 
charge, if it was criminal at all, was certainly the 
lighter of the two, and I went along with the man, 
doubtful, but not greatly dismayed. I was shown 


into a number of rooms, and eventually into the 
presence of a police officer, who explained that a 
serious campaign had been opened against the cen- 
tres of anarchy, and that this, my successful masquer- 
ade, might be of considerable value to the public 
safety. He offered me a good salary and this little 
blue card. Though our conversation was short, he 
struck me as a man of very massive common sense 
and humour ; but I cannot tell you much about him 
personally, because " 

Syme laid down his knife and fork. 

" I know," he said, " because you talked to him 
in a dark room." 

Professor de Worms nodded and drained his 



" Burgundy is a jolly thing," said tlie Professor 
sadly, as he set his glass down. 

" You don't look as if it were," said Symc ; " you 
drink it as if it were medicine." 

" You must excuse my manner," said the Professor 
dismally, " my position is rather a curious one. 
Inside I am really bursting with boyish merriment; 
but I acted the paralytic Professor so well, that now 
I can't leave off. So that when I am among friends, 
and have no need at all to disguise myself, I still 
can't help speaking slow and wrinkling my forehead 
— ^just as if it were my forehead. I can be quite 
happy, you understand, but only in a paralytic sort 
of way. The most buoyant exclamations leap up in 
my heart, but they come out of my mouth (}uite 
different. You should hear me say, ' Puck up, old 
cock ! ' it would bring tears to your eyes." 

" It docs," said Syme ; " but I cannot help think- 
ing that apart from all that you are really a bit 




The Professor started a little and looked at him 

" You are a very clever fellow," he said, " it is a 
pleasure to work with you. Yes, I have rather a 
heavy cloud in my head. There is a great problem 
to face," and he sank his bald brow in his two hands. 

Then he said in a low voice — 

" Can you play the piano ? " 

" Yes," said Syme in simple wonder, " I'm sup- 
posed to have a good touch." 

Then, as the other did not speak, he added — 

" I trust the great cloud is hfted." 

After a long silence, the Professor said out of the 
cavernous shadow of his hands — 

" It would have done just as well if you could 
work a typewriter," 

" Thank you," said Syme, " you flatter me." 

" Listen to me," said the other, " and remember 
whom we have to see to-morrow. You and I are 
going to-morrow to attempt something which is very 
much more dangerous than trying to steal the Crown 
Jewels out of the Tower. We are trying to steal a 
secret from a very sharp, very strong, and very 
wicked man. I believe there is no man, except the 
President, of course, who is so seriously startling and 
formidable as that little grinning fellow in goggles. 


He has not perhaps the white-hot enthusiasm unto 
death, the mad martyrdom for anarchy, which marks 
the Secretary. But then that very fanaticism in 
the Secretary has a human pathos, and is almost a 
redeeming trait. But the Uttle Doctor has a brutal 
sanity that is more shocking than the Secretary's 
disease. Don't you notice his detestable virility 
and vitality. He bounces like an india-rubber ball. 
Depend on it, Sunday was not asleep (I wonder if 
he ever sleeps ?) when he locked up all the plans of 
this outrage in the round, black head of Dr. Bull," 

" And you think," said Syme, '• that this unique 
monster will be soothed if I play the piano to him ? " 

" Don't be an ass," said his mentor. " I men- 
tioned the piano because it gives one quick and 
independent fingers. Syme, if we are to go through 
this interview and come out sane or alive, we must 
have some code of signals between us that this brute 
will not see. I have made a rough alphabetical 
cypher corresponding to the five fingers — like this, 
see," and he rippled with his fingers on the wooden 
table — " BAD, bad, a word we may frequently 

Syme poured himself out another glass of wine, 
and began to study the scheme. He was abnormally 
quick with his brains at puzzles, and with his hands 


at conjuring, and it did not take him long to learn 
how he might convey simple messages by what 
would seem to be idle taps upon a table or knee. 
But wine and companionship had always the effect 
of inspiring him to a farcical ingenuity, and the 
Professor soon found himself struggling with the 
too vast energy of the new language, as it passed 
through the heated brain of Syme. 

" We must have several word-signs," said Syme 
seriously — '* words that we are likely to want, fine 
shades of meaning. My favourite word is ' coeval.' 
What's yours ? " 

" Do stop playing the goat," said the Professor 
plaintively. " You don't know how serious this is." 

" ' Lush,' too," said Syme, shaking his head 
sagaciously, " we must have * lush,' — word applied 
to grass, don't you know ? " 

" Do you imagine," asked the Professor furiously, 
" that we are going to talk to Dr. Bull about grass ?" 

" There are several ways in which the subject 
could be approached," said Syme reflectively, " and 
the word introduced without appearing forced. We 
might say, ' Dr. Bull, as a revolutionist, you remem- 
ber that a tyrant once advised us to eat grass ; and 
indeed many of us, looking on the fresh lush grass 
of summer ' " 


" Do you understand," said the other, " that this 
is a tragedy ? " 

" Perfectly," repHed Syme ; " always be comic in 
a tragedy. What the deuce else can you do ? I 
wish this language of yours had a wider scope. 
I suppose we could not extend it from the fingers 
to the toes ? That would involve pulling off our 
boots and socks during the conversation, which 
however unobtrusively performed " 

" Syme," said his friend with a stern simplicity, 
" go to bed ! " 

Syme, however, sat up in bed for a considerable 
time mastering the new code. He was awakened 
next morning while the east was still sealed with 
darkness, and found his grey-bearded ally standing 
like a ghost beside his bed. 

Syme sat up in bed blinking ; then slowly collected 
his thoughts, threw ofif the bedclothes, and stood 
up. It seemed to him in some curious way that all 
the safety and sociability of the night before fell with 
the bedclothes off him, and he stood up in an air of 
cold danger. He still felt an entire trust and loyalty 
towards his companion ; but it was the trust between 
two men going to the scaffold. 

" Well," said Syme with a forced cheerfulness as 
he pulled on his trousers, " I dreamt of that al- 


phabet of yours. Did it take you long to make it 

The Professor made no answer, but gazed in front 
of him with eyes the colour of a wintry sea ; so 
Syme repeated his question. 

" I say, did it take you long to invent all this ? 
I'm considered good at these things, and it was a 
good hour's grind. Did you learn it all on the 
spot ? " 

The Professor was silent; his eyes were wide 
open, and he wore a fixed but very small smile. 

" How long did it take you ? " 

The Professor did not move. 

" Confound you, can't you answer ? " called out 
Syme, in a sudden anger that had something like 
fear underneath. Whether or no the Professor 
could answer, he did not. 

Syme stood staring back at the stiff face like 
parchment and the blank, blue eyes. His first 
thought was that the Professor had gone mad, but 
his second thought was more frightful. After all, 
what did he know about this queer creature whom 
he had heedlessly accepted as a friend ? What did 
he know, except that the man had been at the 
anarchist breakfast and had told him a ridiculous 
tale ? How improbable it was that there should be 


another friend there beside Gogol ! Was this man's 
silence a sensational way of declaring war ? Was 
this adamantine stare after all only the awful sneer 
of some threefold traitor, who had turned for the 
last time ? He stood and strained his ears in this 
heartless silence. He almost fancied he could hear 
dynamiters come to capture him shifting softly in 
the corridor outside. 

Then his eye strayed downwards, and he burst 
out laughing. Though the Professor himself stood 
there as voiceless as a statue, his five dumb fingers 
were dancing alive upon the dead table. Syme 
watched the twinkling movements of the talking 
hand, and read clearly the message — 

" I will only talk like this. We must get used to 

He rapped out the answer with the impatience of 
rehef — 

" All right. Let's get out to breakfast." 

They took their hats and sticks in silence ; but as 
Syme took his sword-stick, he held it hard. 

They paused for a few minutes only to stuff down 
coffee and coarse thick sandwiches at a coffee stall, 
and then made their way across the river, which 
under the grey and growing light looked as desolate 
as Acheron. They reached the bottom of the huge 


block of buildings which they had seen from across 
the river, and began in silence to mount the naked 
and numberless stone steps, only pausing now and 
then to make short remarks on the rail of the 
banisters. At about every other flight they passed 
a window ; each window showed them a pale and 
tragic dawn lifting itself laboriously over London. 
From each the innumerable roofs of slate looked 
like the leaden surges of a grey, troubled sea after 
rain. Syme was increasingly conscious that his new 
adventure had somehow a quality of cold sanity 
worse than the wild adventures of the past. Last 
night, for instance, the tall tenements had seemed to 
him like a tower in a dream. As he now went up 
the weary and perpetual steps, he was daunted and 
bewildered by their almost infinite series. But it 
was not the hot horror of a dream or of anything 
that might be exaggeration or delusion. Their in- 
finity was more like the empty infinity of arithmetic, 
something unthinkable, yet necessary to thought. 
Or it was like the stunning statements of astronomy 
about the distance of the fixed stars. He was as- 
cending the house of reason, a thing more hideous 
than unreason itself 

By the time they reached Dr. Bull's landing, a last 
window showed them a harsh, white dawn edged 


with banks of a kind of coarse red, more like red 
clay than red cloud. And when they entered Dr. 
Bull's bare garret it was full of light. 

Syme had been haunted by a half historic memory 
in connection with these empty rooms and that 
austere daybreak. The moment he saw the garret 
and Dr. Bull sitting writing at a table, he remem- 
bered what the memory was — the French Revolu- 
tion. There should have been the black outline of 
a guillotine against that heavy red and white of the 
morning. Dr. Bull was in his white shirt and black 
breeches only ; his cropped, dark head might well 
have just come out of its wig ; he might have been 
Marat or a more slipshod Robespierre. 

Yet when he was seen properly, the French fancy 
fell away. The Jacobins were idealists ; there was 
about this man a murderous materialism. His 
position gave him a somewhat new appearance. 
The strong, white light of morning coming from one 
side creating sharp shadows, made him seem both 
more pale and more angular than he had looked at 
the breakfast on the balcony. Thus the two black 
glasses that encased his eyes might really have been 
black cavities in his skull, making him look like a 
death's-head. And indeed, if ever Death himself sat 
writing at a wooden table, it might have been he. 


He looked up and smiled brightly enough as the 
men came in, and rose with the resilient rapidity of 
which the Professor had spoken. He set chairs for 
both of them, and going to a peg behind the door, 
proceeded to put on a coat and waistcoat of rough, 
dark tweed; he buttoned it up neatly, and came 
back to sit down at his table. 

The quiet good humour of his manner left his 
two opponents helpless. It was with some mo- 
mentary difificulty that the Professor broke silence 
and began, " I'm sorry to disturb you so early, 
comrade," said he, with a careful resumption of the 
slow de Worms manner. " You have no doubt 
made all the arrangements for the Paris affair ? " 
Then he added with infinite slowness, •' We have 
information which renders intolerable anything in 
the nature of a moment's delay." 

Dr. Bull smiled again, but continued to gaze on 
them without speaking. The Professor resumed, a 
pause before each weary word — 

" Please do not think me excessively abrupt ; but 
I advise you to alter those plans, or if it is too late 
for that, to follow your agent with all the support 
you can get for him. Comrade Syme and I have 
had an experience which it would take more time 
to recount than we can afford, if we are to act on it. 


I will, however, relate the occurrence in detail, even 
at the risk of losing time, if you really feel that it 
is essential to the understanding of tlic problem wc 
have to discuss." 

He was spinning out his sentences, making them 
intolerably long and lingering, in the hope of mad- 
dening the practical little Doctor into an explosion 
of impatience which might show his hand. But 
the little Doctor continued only to stare and smile, 
and the monologue was uphill work. Syme began 
to feel a new sickness and despair. The Doctor's 
smile and silence were not at all like the cataleptic 
stare and horrible silence which he had confronted 
in the Professor half an hour before. About the 
Professor's make-up and all his antics there was 
always something merely grotesque, like a golly- 
wog. Syme remembered those wild woes of 
yesterday as one remembers being afraid of Bogy 
in childhood. But here was daylight: here was a 
healthy, square-shouldered man in tweeds, not odd 
save for the accident of his ugly spectacles, not 
glaring or grinning at all, but smiling steadily and 
not saying a word. The whole had a sense of un- 
bearable reality. Under the increasing sunlight 
the colours of the Doctor's complexion, the 
pattern of his tweeds, grew and expanded out- 


rageously, as such things grow too important in 
a reahstic novel. But his smile was quite slight, 
the pose of his head pohte; the only uncanny 
thing was his silence. 

" As I say," resumed the Professor, like a man 
toiling through heavy sand, " the incident that has 
occurred to us and has led us to ask for informa- 
tion about the Marquis, is one which you may 
think it better to have narrated; but as it came 
in the way of Comrade Syme rather than me " 

His words he seemed to be dragging out like 
words in an anthem ; but Syme, who was watching, 
saw his long fingers rattle quickly on the edge of 
the crazy table. He read the message, " You must 
go on. This devil has sucked me dry ! " 

Syme plunged into the breach with that bravado 
of improvisation which always came to him when 
he was alarmed. 

" Yes, the thing really happened to me," he said 
hastily. " I had the good fortune to fall into con- 
versation with a detective who took me, thanks to 
my hat, for a respectable person. Wishing to clinch 
my reputation for respectability, I took him and 
made him very drunk at the Savoy. Under this 
influence he became friendly, and told me in so 
many words that within a day or two they hope to 


arrest the Marquis in France. So unless you or I 
can get on his track " 

The Doctor was still smiling in the most friendly- 
way, and his protected eyes were still impenetrable. 
The Professor signalled to Syme that he would re- 
sume his explanation, and he began again with the 
same elaborate calm. 

" Syme immediately brought this information to 
me, and we came here together to see what use you 
would be inclined to make of it. It seems to me 
unquestionably urgent that " 

All this time Syme had been staring at the 
Doctor almost as steadily as the Doctor stared at 
the Professor, but quite without the smile. The 
nerves of both comrades-in-arms were near snap- 
ping under that strain of motionless amiability, 
when Syme suddenly leant forward and idly tapped 
the edge of the table. His message to his ally ran, 
" I have an intuition." 

The Professor, with scarcely a pause in his mono- 
logue, signalled back, " Then sit on it." 

Syme telegraphed, " It is quite extraordinary." 

The other answered, " Extraordinary rot ! " 

Syme said, " I am a poet." 

The other retorted, " You are a dead man." 

Syme had gone quite red up to his j-cllow hair, 


and his eyes were burning feverishly. As he said, 
he had an intuition, and it had risen to a sort of 
hght-headed certainty. Resuming his symboHc 
taps, he signalled to his friend, " You scarcely realise 
how poetic my intuition is. It has that sudden 
quality we sometimes feel in the coming of spring." 

He then studied the answer on his friend's fingers. 
The answer was, " Go to hell ! " 

The Professor then resumed his merely verbal 
monologue addressed to the Doctor. 

** Perhaps I should rather say," said Syme on his 
fingers, " that it resembles that sudden smell of the 
sea which may be found in the heart of lush woods." 

His companion disdained to reply. 

" Or yet again," tapped Syme, " it is positive, as 
is the passionate red hair of a beautiful woman." 

The Professor was continuing his speech, but in 
the middle of it Syme decided to act. He leant 
across the table, and said in a voice that could not 
be neglected — 

" Dr. Bull ! " 

The Doctor's sleek and smiling head did not 
move, but they could have sworn that under his 
dark glasses his eyes darted towards Syme. 

" Dr. Bull," said Syme, in a voice peculiarly 
precise and courteous, " would you do me a small 


favour? Would you be so kind as to take off your 
spectacles ? " 

The Professor swung round on his scat, and stared 
at Syme with a sort of frozen fury of astonishment. 
Syme, like a man who has thrown his life and for- 
tune on the table, leaned forward with a fiery face. 
The Doctor did not move. 

For a few seconds there was a silence in which 
one could hear a pin dro[), split once by the single 
hoot of a distant steamer on the Thames. Then 
Dr. Bull rose slowly, still smiling, and took off his 

Syme sprang to his feet, stepping backwards a 
little, like a chemical lecturer from a successful ex- 
plosion. His eyes were like stars, and for an instant 
he could only point without speaking. 

The Professor had also started to his feet, forget- 
ful of his supposed paralysis. I Ic leant on the back 
of the chair and stared doubtfully at Dr. Hull, as if 
the Doctor had been turned into a toad before his 
eyes. And indeed it was almost as great a trans- 
formation scene. 

The two detectives saw sitting in the chair before 
them a vcr)- boyish-looking young man, with very 
frank and happy ha7:el eyes, an open expression, 
cockney clothes like those of a city clerk, and an 


unquestionable breath about him of being very 
good and rather commonplace. The smile was 
still there, but it might have been the first smile of 
a baby. 

" I knew I was a poet," cried Syme in a sort of 
ecstasy. " I knew my intuition was as infallible as 
the Pope. It was the spectacles that did it ! It was 
all the spectacles ! Given those beastly black eyes, 
and all the rest of him, his health and his jolly looks, 
made him a live devil among dead ones." 

" It certainly does make a queer difference," said 
the Professor shakily. " But as regards the project 
of Dr. Bull " 

" Project be damned ! " roared Syme, beside him- 
self. " Look at him ! Look at his face, look at his 
collar, look at his blessed boots ! You don't sup- 
pose, do you, that that thing's an anarchist ? " 

" Syme ! " cried the other in an apprehensive 

" Why, by God," said Syme, " I'll take the risk 
of that myself! Dr. Bull, I am a police officer. 
There's my card," and he flung down the blue card 
upon the table. 

The Professor still feared that all was lost; but he 
was loyal. He pulled out his own official card and 
put it beside his friend's. Then the third man burst 


out laughing, and for the first time that morning 
they heard his voice. 

" I'm awfully glad you chaps have come so early," 
he said, with a sort of schoolboy flippancy, " for we 
can all start for France together. Yes, I'm in the 
force right enough," and he flicked a blue card 
towards them lightly as a matter of form. 

Clapping a brisk bowler on his head and resuming 
his goblin glasses, the Doctor moved so quickly 
towards the door, that the others instinctively fol- 
lowed him. Syme seemed a little distrait, and as 
he passed under the doorway he suddenly struck his 
stick on the stone passage so that it rang. 

" But Lord God Almighty," he cried out, " if this 
is all right, there were more damned detectives than 
there were damned dynamiters at the damned 
Council ! " 

" We might have fought easily," said Bull ; " we 
were four against three." 

The Professor was descending the stairs, but his 
voice came up from below, 

" No," said the voice, " we were not four against 
three — we were not so lucky. We were four 
against One." 

The others went down the stairs in silence. 

The young man called Bull, with an innocent 


courtesy characteristic of him, insisted on going last 
until they reached the street; but there his own 
robust rapidity asserted itself unconsciously, and he 
walked quickly on ahead towards a railway inquiry 
office, talking to the others over his shoulder. 

" It is jolly to get some pals," he said. " I've 
been half dead with the jumps, being quite alone. 
I nearly flung my arms round Gogol and embraced 
him, which would have been imprudent. I hope 
you won't despise me for having been in a blue 

" All the blue devils in blue hell," said Syme, 
" contributed to my blue funk ! But the worst 
devil was you and your infernal goggles." 

The young man laughed delightedly. 

" Wasn't it a rag ? " he said. " Such a simple 
idea — not my own. I haven't got the brains. You 
see, I wanted to go into the detective service, espe- 
cially the anti-dynamite business. But for that 
purpose they wanted some one to dress up as a 
dynamiter ; and they all swore by blazes that I 
could never look like a dynamiter. They said my 
very walk was respectable, and that seen from 
behind I looked like the British Constitution. 
They said I looked too healthy and too optimistic, 
and too reliable and benevolent ; they called me all 


sorts of names at Scotland Yard. They said that if 
I had been a criminal, I might have made my 
fortune by looking so like an honest man ; but as I 
had the misfortune to be an honest man, there was 
not even the remotest chance of my assisting them 
by ever looking hke a criminal. But at last I was 
brought before some old josser who was high up in 
the force, and who seemed to have no end of a 
head on his shoulders. And there the others all 
talked hopelessly. One asked whether a bushy 
beard would hide my nice smile ; another said that 
if they blacked my face I might look like a negro 
anarchist ; but this old chap chipped in with a most 
extraordinary remark, * A pair of smoked spec- 
tacles will do it,' he said positively, ' Look at him 
now; he looks like an angelic office boy. Put him 
on a pair of smoked spectacles, and children will 
scream at the sight of him.' And so it was, by 
George ! When once my eyes were covered all the 
rest, smile and big shoulders and short hair, made 
me look a perfect little devil. As I say, it was 
simple enough when it was done, like miracles ; but 
that wasn't the really miraculous part of it. There 
was one really staggering thing about the business, 
and my head still turns at it." 
" What was that ? " asked Syme. 


" I'll tell you," answered the man in spectacles. 
*' This big pot in the police who sized me up so that 
he knew how the goggles would go with my hair 
and socks — by God, he never saw me at all ! " 

Syme's eyes suddenly flashed on him. 

" How was that ? " he asked. " I thought you 
talked to him." 

" So I did," said Bull brightly ; " but we talked 
in a pitch-dark room like a coal cellar. There, you 
would never have guessed that." 

" I could not have conceived it," said Syme 

" It is indeed a new idea," said the Professor. 

Their new ally was in practical matters a whirl- 
wind. At the inquiry office he asked with business- 
like brevity about the trains for Dover. Having got 
his information, he bundled the company into a cab, 
and put them and himself inside a railway carriage 
before they had properly realised the breathless 
process. They were already on the Calais boat 
before conversation flowed freely. 

" I had already arranged," he explained, " to go 
to France for my lunch ; but I am delighted to have 
some one to lunch with me. You see, I had to 
send that beast, the Marquis, over with his bomb, 
because the President had his eye on me, though 


God knows how. I'll tell you the stury some day. 
It was perfectly choking. Whenever I tried tu slip 
out of it I saw the President somewhere, smiling 
out of the bow-window of a club or taking off 
his hat to me from the top of an omnibus. I 
tell you, you can say what you like, that fellow 
sold himself to the devil ; he can be in six places at 

" So you sent the Marquis off, I understand," 
asked the Professor. " Was it long ago ? Shall 
we be in time to catch him ? " 

" Yes," answered the new guide, " I've timed it 
all. He'll still be at Calais when we arrive." 

" But when we do catch him at Calais," said the 
Professor, " what are we going to do ? " 

At this question the countenance of Dr. Bull 
fell for the first time. He reflected a little, and 
then said — ■ 

" Theoretically, I suppose, we ought to call the 

" Not I," said Syme. " Theoretically I ought to 
drown myself first. I promised a poor fellow, who 
was a real modern pessimist, on my word of honour 
not to tell the police. I'm no hand at casuistry, but 
I can't break my word to a modern pessimist. It's 
like breaking one's word to a child." 


" I'm in the same boat," said the Professor. " I 
tried to tell the police and I couldn't, because of 
some silly oath I took. You see, when I was an 
actor I was a sort of all-round beast. Perjury or 
treason is the only crime I haven't committed. If I 
did that I shouldn't know the difference between 
right and wrong." 

" I've been through all that," said Dr. Bull, " and 
I've made up my mind. I gave my promise to the 
Secretary — you know him, man who smiles upside 
down. My friends, that man is the most utterly 
unhappy man that was ever human. It may be his 
digestion, or his conscience, or his nerves, or his 
philosophy of the universe, but he's damned, he's in 
hell ! Well, I can't turn on a man like that, and 
hunt him down. It's like whipping a leper. I may 
be mad, but that's how I feel ; and there's jolly well 
the end of it." 

" I don't think you're mad," said Syme. " I knew 
you would decide like that when first you " 

" Eh ? " said Dr. Bull. 

" When first you took off your spectacles." 

Dr. Bull smiled a httle, and strolled across the 
deck to look at the sunlit sea. Then he strolled 
back again, kicking his heels carelessly, and a com- 
panionable silence fell between the three men. 


" Well," said Symc, " it seems that we have all 
the same kind of morality or immorality, so we had 
better face the fact that comes of it." 

" Yes," assented the Professor, " you're quite right ; 
and we must hurry up, for I can see the Grey Nose 
standing out from France." 

" The fact that comes of it," said Syme seriously, 
" is this, that we three are alone on this planet. 
Gogol has gone, God knows where; perhaps the 
President has smashed him like a fly. On the 
Council we are three men against three, like the 
Romans who held the bridge. But we are worse 
off than that, first because they can appeal to their 
organisation and we cannot appeal to ours, and sec- 
ond because " 

" Because one of those other three men," said the 
Professor, " is not a man." 

Syme nodded and was silent for a second or two, 
then he said — 

" My idea is this. We must do something to 
keep the Marquis in Calais till to-morrow midday. 
I have turned over twenty schemes in my head. 
We cannot denounce him as a dynamiter; that is 
agreed. We cannot get him detained on some 
trivial charge, for we should have to appear ; he 
knows us, and he would smell a rat. We cannot 


pretend to keep him on anarchist business ; he might 
swallow much in that way, but not the notion of 
stopping in Calais while the Czar went safely through 
Paris. We might try to kidnap him, and lock him 
up ourselves ; but he is a well-known man here. 
He has a whole body-guard of friends ; he is very 
strong and brave, and the event is doubtful. The 
only thing I can see to do is actually to take ad- 
vantage of the very things that are in the Marquis's 
favour. I am going to profit by the fact that he is 
a highly respected nobleman. I am going to profit 
by the fact that he has many friends and moves in 
the best society." 

" What the devil are you talking about ? " asked 
the Professor. 

" The Symes are first mentioned in the fourteenth 
century," said Syme ; " but there is a tradition that 
one of them rode behind Bruce at Bannockburn. 
Since 1350 the tree is quite clear." 

" He's gone off his head," said the little Doctor, 

" Our bearings," continued Syme calmly, " are 
' argent a chevron gules charged with three cross 
crosslets of the field.' The motto varies." 

The Professor seized Syme roughly by the waist- 


" We arc just inshore," he said. " Arc you sea- 
sick or joking in the wrong place ? " 

" My remarks are almost painfully practical," 
answered Syme, in an unhurried manner. " The 
house of St. Eustache also is very ancient. The 
Marquis cannot deny that he is a gentleman. He 
cannot deny that I am a gentleman. And in order 
to put the matter of my social position quite beyond 
a doubt, I propose at the earliest opportunity to 
knock his hat off. But here we are in the harbour." 

They went on shore under the strong sun in a 
501 1 of daze. Syme, who had now taken the lead 
fls Bull had taken it in London, led them along a 
kind of marine parade until he came to some cafes, 
embowered in a bulk of greenery and overlooking 
the sea. As he went before them his step was 
slightly swaggering, and he swung his stick like a 
sword. He was making apparently for the extreme 
end of the line of cafes, but he stopped abruptly. 
With a sharp gesture he motioned them to silence, 
but he pointed with one gloved finger to a cafe 
table under a bank of flowering foliage at which sat 
the Marquis dc St. Eustache, his teeth shining in 
his thick, black beard, and his bold, brown face 
shadowed ^y a light yellow straw hat and outlined 
against the violet sea. 



Syme sat down at a cafe table with his com- 
panions, his blue eyes sparkling like the bright sea 
below, and ordered a bottle of Saumur with a 
pleased impatience. He was for some reason in a 
condition of curious hilarity. His spirits were al- 
ready unnaturally high ; they rose as the Saumur 
sank, and in half an hour his talk was a torrent of 
nonsense. He professed to be making out a plan 
of the conversation which was going to ensue be- 
tween himself and the deadly Marquis. He jotted 
it down wildly with a pencil. It was arranged like 
a printed catechism, with questions and answers, 
and was delivered with an extraordinary rapidity 
of utterance. 

" I shall approach. Before taking off his hat, I 
shall take off my own. I shall say, * The Marquis 
de Saint Eustache, I believe.' He will say, * The 
celebrated Mr, Syme, I presume.' He will say in 
the most exquisite French, 'How are you?' I 
shall reply in the most exquisite Cockney, * Oh, 

just the Syme ' " 



"Oh, shut it!" said the man in spectacles. 
" Pull yourself together, and chuck away that bit 
of paper. What are you really going to do ? " 

" But it was a lovely catechism," said Syme 
pathetically. " Do let me read it you. It has only 
forty-three questions and answers, and some of the 
Marquis's answers are wonderfully witty. I like to 
be just to my enemy." 

" But what's the good of it all ? " asked Dr. Bull 
in exasperation. 

" It leads up to my challenge, don't you see," 
said Syme, beaming. " When the Marquis has 
given the thirty-ninth reply, which runs " 

" Has it by any chance occurred to you," asked 
the Professor, with a ponderous simplicity, " that 
the Marquis may not say all the forty-three things 
you have put down for him ? In that case, I un- 
derstand, your own epigrams may appear some- 
what more forced." 

Syme struck the table with a radiant face. 

" Why, how true that is," he said, " and I 
never thought of it. Sir, you have an in- 
tellect beyond the common. You will make a 

"Oh, you're as drunk as an owl!" said the 


" It only remains," continued Syme quite unper- 
turbed, " to adopt some other method of breaking 
the ice (if I may so express it) between myself and 
the man I wish to kill. And since the course of a 
dialogue cannot be predicted by one of its parties 
alone (as you have pointed out with such recondite 
acumen), the only thing to be done, I suppose, is 
for the one party, as far as possible, to do all the 
dialogue by himself. And so I will, by George ! " 
And he stood up suddenly, his yellow hair blowing 
in the slight sea breeze. 

A band was playing in a cafe chantant hidden 
somewhere among the trees, and a woman had just 
stopped singing. On Syme's heated head the bray 
of the brass band seemed like the jar and jingle of 
that barrel-organ in Leicester Square, to the tune 
of which he had once stood up to die. He looked 
across to the little table where the Marquis sat. 
The man had two companions now, solemn French- 
men in frock-coats and silk hats, one of them with 
the red rosette of the Legion of Honour, evidently 
people of a solid social position. Beside these 
black, cylindrical costumes, the Marquis, in his 
loose straw hat and light spring clothes, looked 
Bohemian and even barbaric; but he looked the 
Marquis. Indeed, one might say that he looked 


the king, with his animal elegance, his scornful 
eyes, and his proud head lifted against the purple 
sea. But he was no Christian king, at any rate; 
he was, rather, some swarthy despot, half Greek, 
half Asiatic, who in the days when slavery seemed 
natural looked down on the Mediterranean, on his 
galley and his groaning slaves. Just so, Syme 
thought, would the brown-gold face of such a 
tyrant have shown against the dark green olives 
and the burning blue. 

" Are you going to address the meeting ? " asked 
the Professor peevishly, seeing that Syme still stood 
up without moving. 

Syme drained his last glass of sparkling wine. 

" I am," he said, pointing across to the Marquis 
and his companions, " that meeting. That meeting 
displeases me. I am going to pull that meeting's 
great ugly, mahogany-coloured nose." 

He stepped across swiftly, if not quite steadily. 
The Marquis, seeing him, arched his black Assyrian 
eyebrows in surprise, but smiled politely. 

" You are Mr. Syme, I think," he said. 

Syme bowed. 

" And you are the Marquis dc Saint Eustache," 
he said gracefully. " Permit me to pull your 


He leant over to do so, but the Marquis started 
backwards, upsetting his chair, and the two men in 
top hats held Syme back by the shoulders. 

" This man has insulted me ! " said Syme, with 
gestures of explanation. 

" Insulted you ? " cried the gentleman with the 
red rosette, " when ? " 

" Oh, just now," said Syme recklessly. " He 
insulted my mother." 

" Insulted your mother ! " exclaimed the gentle- 
man incredulously. 

" Well, anyhow," said Syme, conceding a point, 
" my aunt." 

" But how can the Marquis have insulted your 
aunt just now?" said the second gentleman with 
some legitimate wonder. " He has been sitting here 
all the time." 

" Ah, it was what he said ! " said Syme darkly. 

" I said nothing at all," said the Marquis, " except 
something about the band. I only said that I hked 
Wagner played well." 

" It was an allusion to my family," said Syme 
firmly. '• My aunt played Wagner badly. It was 
a painful subject. We are always being insulted 
about it." 

" This seems most extraordinary," said the 


gentleman who was dicori, looking doubtfully at 
the Marquis. 

" Oh, I assure you," said Syme earnestly, " the 
whole of your conversation was simply packed with 
sinister allusions to my aunt's weaknesses." 

" This is nonsense ! " said the second gentleman. 
" I for one have said nothing for half an hour except 
that I liked the singing of that girl with black 

♦' Well, there you are again ! " said Syme indig- 
nantly. " My aunt's was red." 

" It seems to me," said the other, " that you are 
simply seeking a pretext to insult the Marquis." 

" By George ! " said Syme, facing round and look- 
ing at him, " what a clever chap you are ! " 

The Marquis started up with eyes flaming like a 

•' Seeking a quarrel with me ! " he cried. " Seek- 
ing a fight witii me ! By God ! there was never a 
man who had to seek long. These gentlemen will 
perhaps act for me. There are still four hours of 
daylight. Let us fight this evening." 

Syme bowed with a quite beautiful gracious- 

" Marquis," he said, " your action is worthy of 
your fame and blood. Permit me to consult for a 


moment with the gentlemen in whose hands I shall 
place myself." 

In three long strides he rejoined his companions, 
and they, who had seen his champagne-inspired 
attack and listened to his idiotic explanations, were 
quite startled at the look of him. For now that he 
came back to them he was quite sober, a little pale, 
and he spoke in a low voice of passionate practi- 

" I have done it," he said hoarsely. " I have 
fixed a fight on the beast. But look here, and listen 
carefully. There is no time for talk. You are my 
seconds, and everything must come from you. 
Now you must insist, and insist absolutely, on the 
duel coming off after seven to-morrow, so as to give 
me the chance of preventing him from catching the 
7.45 for Paris. If he misses that he misses his 
crime. He can't refuse to meet you on such a small 
point of time and place. But this is what he will do. 
He will choose a field somewhere near a wayside 
station, where he can pick up the train. He is a 
very good swordsman, and he will trust to killing 
me in time to 'catch it. But I can fence well too, 
and I think I can keep him in play, at any rate, 
until the train is lost. Then perhaps he may kill 
me to console his feelings. You understand ? 


Very well then, let me introduce you to some 
charming friends of mine," and leading them quickly 
across the parade, he presented them to the 
Marquis's seconds by two very aristocratic names 
of which they had not previously heard. 

Syme was subject to spasms of singular common 
sense, not otherwise a part of his character. They 
were (as he said of his impulse about the spectacles) 
poetic intuitions, and they sometimes rose to the 
exaltation of prophecy. 

He had correctly calculated in this case the poHcy 
of his opponent. When the Marquis was informed 
by his seconds that Syme could only fight in the 
morning, he must fully have realised that an ob- 
stacle had suddenly arisen between him and his 
bomb-throwing business in the capital. Naturally 
he could not explain this objection to his friends, so 
he chose the course which Syme had predicted. 
He induced his seconds to settle on a small meadow 
not far from the railway, and he trusted to the 
fatality of the first engagement. 

When he came down very coolly to the field of 
honour, no one could have guessed that he had any 
anxiety about a journey; his hands were in his 
pockets, his straw hat on the back of his head, his 
handsome face brazen in the sun. But it might 


have struck a stranger as odd that there appeared in 
his train, not only his seconds carrying the sword- 
case, but two of his servants carrying a portman- 
teau and a luncheon basket. 

Early as was the hour, the sun soaked everything 
in warmth, and Syme was vaguely surprised to see 
so many spring flowers burning gold and silver in 
the tall grass in which the whole company stood 
almost knee-deep. 

With the exception of the Marquis, all the men 
were in sombre and solemn morning-dress, with 
hats like black chimney-pots ; the little Doctor es- 
pecially, with the addition of his black spectacles, 
looked like an undertaker in a farce. Syme could 
not help feeling a comic contrast between this fune- 
real church parade of apparel and the rich and ghs- 
tening meadow, growing wild flowers everywhere. 
But, indeed, this comic contrast between the yellow 
blossoms and the black hats was but a symbol of 
the tragic contrast between the yellow blossoms and 
the black business. On his right was a little wood ; 
far away to his left lay the long curve of the rail- 
way line, which he was, so to speak, guarding from 
the Marquis, whose goal and escape it was. In 
front of him, behind the black group of his oppo- 
nents, he could see, like a tinted cloud, a small 


almond bush in flower against the faint Hne of the 

The member of the Legion of Honour, whose 
name it seemed was Colonel Ducroix, approached 
the Professor and Dr. Bull with great politeness, and 
suggested that the play should terminate witli tlie 
first considerable hurt. 

Dr. Bull, however, having been carefully coached 
by Syme upon this point of policy, insisted, with 
great dignity and in very bad I' rench, that it should 
continue until one of the combatants was disabled. 
Syme had made up his mind that he could avoid 
disabling the Marquis and prevent the Marquis 
from disabling him for at least twenty minutes. 
In twenty minutes the Paris train would have 
gone by. 

" To a man of the well-known skill and valour of 
Monsieur de St. Eustache," said the Professor sol- 
emnly, " it must be a matter of indifTcrencc which 
method is adopted, and our principal has strong 
reasons for demanding the longer encounter, reasons 
the delicacy of which prevent me from being ex- 
plicit, but for the just and honourable nature of 
which I can " 

" Pestc !" broke from the Marquis behind, whose 
face had suddenly darkened, " let us stop talking 


and begin," and he slashed off the head of a tall 
flower with his stick. 

Syme understood his rude impatience, and in- 
stinctively looked over his shoulder to see whether 
the train was coming in sight. But there was no 
smoke on the horizon. 

Colonel Ducroix knelt down and unlocked the 
case, taking out a pair of twin swords, which took 
the sunlight and turned to two streaks of white fire. 
He offered one to the Marquis, who snatched it 
without ceremony, and another to Syme, who took 
it, bent it, and poised it with as much delay as was 
consistent with dignity. Then the Colonel took out 
another pair of blades, and taking one himself and 
giving another to Dr. Bull, proceeded to place the 

Both combatants had thrown off their coats and 
waistcoats, and stood sword in hand. The seconds 
stood on each side of the Hne of fight with drawn 
swords also, but still sombre in their dark frock- 
coats and hats. The principals saluted. The 
Colonel said quietly, " Engage ! " and the two blades 
touched and tingled. 

When the jar of the joined iron ran up Syme's 
arm, all the fantastic fears that have been the sub- 
ject of this story fell from him like dreams from a 


man waking up in bed. He remembered them 
clearly and in order as mere delusions of the nerves 
— how the fear of the Professor had been the fear of 
the tyrannic accidents of nightmare, and how the 
fear of the Doctor had been the fear of the airless 
vacuum of science. The first was the old fear that 
any miracle might happen, the second the more 
hopeless modern fear that no miracle can ever hap- 
pen. But he saw that these fears were fancies, for 
he found himself in the presence of the great fact 
of the fear of death, with its coarse and pitiless com- 
mon sense. He felt like a man who had dreamed 
all night of falling over precipices, and had woke up 
on the morning when he was to be hanged. For as 
soon as he had seen the sunlight run down the chan- 
nel of his foe's foreshortened blade, and as soon as 
he had felt the two tongues of steel touch, vibrating 
like two living things, he knew that his enemy was 
a terrible fighter, and that probably his last hour 
had come. 

He felt a strange and vivid value in all the earth 
around him, in the grass under his feet ; he felt the 
love of life in all living things. He could almost 
fancy that he heard the grass growing ; he could 
almost fancy that even as he stood fresh flowers 
were springing up and breaking into blossom in the 


meadow — flowers blood-red and burning gold and 
blue, fulfilling the whole pageant of the spring. 
And whenever his eyes strayed for a flash from the 
calm, staring, hypnotic eyes of the Marquis, they 
saw the little tuft of almond tree against the sky- 
line. He had the feeling that if by some miracle he 
escaped he would be ready to sit forever before that 
almond tree, desiring nothing else in the world. 

But while earth and sky and everything had the 
living beauty of a thing lost, the other half of his 
head was as clear as glass, and he was parrying his 
enemy's point with a kind of clockwork skill of 
which he had hardly supposed himself capable. 
Once his enemy's point ran along his wrist, leaving 
a slight streak of blood, but it either was not noticed 
or was tacitly ignored. Every now and then he 
riposted, and once or twice he could almost fancy 
that he felt his point go home, but as there was no 
blood on blade or shirt he supposed he was mis- 
taken. Then came an interruption and a change. 

At the risk of losing all, the Marquis, interrupting 
his quiet stare, flashed one glance over his shoulder 
at the line of railway on his right. Then he turned 
on Syme a face transfigured to that of a fiend, and 
began to fight as if with twenty weapons. The 
attack came so fast and furious, that the one shining 

THE DUP:L 171 

sword seemed a shower of shining arrows. Symc 
had no chance to look at the railway ; but also he 
had no need. He could guess the reason of the 
Marquis's sudden madness of battle — the Paris train 
was in sight. 

But the Marquis's morbid energy overreached 
itself. Twice Syme, parrying, knocked his oppo- 
nent's point far out of the fighting circle ; and the 
third time his riposte was so rapid, that there was 
no doubt about the hit this time. Syme's sword 
actually bent under the weight of the Marquis's 
body, which it had pierced. Syme was as certain 
that he had stuck his blade into his enemy as a 
gardener that he has stuck his spade into the 
ground. Yet the Marquis sprang back from the 
stroke without a stagger, and Syme stood staring 
at his own sword-point like an idiot. There was no 
blood on it at all. 

There was an instant of rigid silence, and then 
Syme in his turn fell furiously on the other, filled 
with a flaming curiosity. The Marquis was prob- 
ably, in a general sense, a better fencer than he, as 
he iiad surmised at the beginning, but at tiie mo- 
ment the Marquis seemed distraught and at a dis- 
advantage. He fought wildly and even weakly, and 
he constantly looked away at the railway line, almost 


as if he feared the train more than the pointed steel 
Syme, on the other hand, fought fiercely but still 
carefully, in an intellectual fury, eager to solve the 
riddle of his own bloodless sword. For this pur- 
pose, he aimed less at the Marquis's body, and 
more at his throat and head. A minute and a half 
afterwards he felt his point enter the man's neck 
below the jaw. It came out clean. Half mad, he 
thrust again, and made what should have been a 
bloody scar on the Marquis's cheek. But there was 
no scar. 

For one moment the heaven of Syme again grew 
black with supernatural terrors. Surely the man 
had a charmed life. But this new spiritual dread 
was a more awful thing than had been the mere 
spiritual topsy-turvydom symbolised by the para- 
lytic who pursued him. The Professor was only a 
goblin ; this man was a devil — perhaps he was the 
Devil ! Anyhow, this was certain, that three times 
had a human sword been driven into him and made 
no mark. When Syme had that thought he drew 
himself up, and all that was good in him sang high 
up in the air as a high wind sings in the trees. He 
thought of all the human things in his story — of the 
Chinese lanterns in Saffron Park, of the girl's red 
hair in the garden, of the honest, beer-swilling 


sailors down by the dock, of his loyal companions 
standing by. Perhaps he had been chosen as a 
champion of all these fresh and kindly things to 
cross swords with the enemy of all creation. " After 
all," he said to himself, '• I am more than a devil ; I 
am a man. I can do the one thing which Satan 
himself cannot do — I can die," and as the word went 
through his head, he heard a faint and far-off hoot, 
which would soon be the roar of the Paris train. 

He fell to fighting again with a supernatural 
levity, like a Mohammedan panting for Paradise. 
As the train came nearer and nearer he fancied he 
could see people putting up the floral arches in 
Paris; he joined in the growing noise and the glory 
of the great Republic whose gate he was guarding 
against Hell. His thoughts rose higher and higher 
with the rising roar of the train, which ended, as if 
proudly, in a long and piercing whistle. The train 

Suddenly, to the astonishment of every one, the 
Marquis sprang back quite out of sword reach and 
threw down his sword. The leap was wonderful, 
and not the less wonderful because Syme had 
plunged his sword a moment before into the man's 

" Stop ! " said the Marquis in a voice that com- 


pelled a momentary obedience. " I want to say 

" What is the matter ? " asked Colonel Ducroix, 
staring. " Has there been foul play ? " 

" There has been foul play somewhere," said 
Dr. Bull, who was a little pale. " Our principal 
has wounded the Marquis four times at least, and 
he is none the worse." j 

The Marquis put up his hand with a curious air 
of ghastly patience. | 

" Please let me speak," he said. " It is rather 
important. Mr. Syme," he continued, turning to 
his opponent, " we are fighting to-day, if I remem- 
ber right, because you expressed a wish (which I 
thought irrational) to pull my nose. Would you 
oblige me by pulling my nose now as quickly as 
possible ? I have to catch a train." 

" I protest that this is most irregular," said Dr. 
Bull indignantly. 

" It is certainly somewhat opposed to precedent," 
said Colonel Ducroix, looking wistfully at his 
principal. " There is, I think, one case on record 
(Captain Bellegarde and the Baron Zumpt) in which 
the weapons were changed in the middle of the en- 
counter at the request of one of the combatants. 
But one can hardly call one's nose a weapon." 



" Will you or will you not pull my nose ? " said 
the Marquis in exasperation. " Come, come, Mr. 
Syme ! You wanted to do it, do it ! You can have 
no conception of how important it is to me. 
Don't be so selfish ! Pull my nose at once, when 
I ask you ! " and he bent slightly forward with a 
fascinating smile. The Paris train, panting and 
I groaning, had grated into a httle station behind the 

neighbouring hill. 
i Syme had the feeling he had more than once had 

in these adventures — the sense that a horrible and 
sublime wave lifted to heaven was just toppling 
over. Walking in a world he half understood, he 
took two paces forward and seized the Roman nose 
of this remarkable nobleman. He pulled it hard, 
and it came off in his hand. 

He stood for some seconds with a foolish 
solemnity, with the pasteboard proboscis still be- 
tween his fingers, looking at it, while the sun and 
the clouds and the wooded hills looked down upon 
this imbecile scene. 

The Marquis broke the silence in a loud and 
cheerful voice. 

" If any one has any use for my left eyebrow," 
he said, " he can have it. Colonel Ducroix, do 
accept my left eyebrow ! It's the kind of thing 


that might come in useful any day," and he gravely 
tore off one of his swarthy Assyrian brows, bring- 
ing about half his brown forehead with it, and 
politely offered it to the Colonel, who stood crimson 
and speechless with rage. 

" If I had known," he spluttered, " that I was 
acting for a poltroon who pads himself to 
fight " 

" Oh, I know, I know ! " said the Marquis, reck- 
lessly throwing various parts of himself right and 
left about the field. " You are making a mistake ; 
but it can't be explained just now. I tell you the 
train has come into the station ! " 

" Yes," said Dr. Bull fiercely, " and the train 
shall go out of the station. It shall go out with- 
out you. We know well enough for what devil's 
work " 

The mysterious Marquis lifted his hands with a 
desperate gesture. He was a strange scarecrow, 
standing there in the sun with half his old face 
peeled off, and half another face glaring and grin- 
ning from underneath. 

" Will you drive me mad ? " he cried. " The 
train " 

" You shall not go by the train," said Syme 
firmly, and grasped his sword. 


The wild figure turned towards Syme, and 
seemed to be gathering itself for a sublime effort 
before speaking. 

" You great fat, blasted, blear-eyed, blundering, 
thundering, brainless, God-forsaken, doddering, 
damned fool ! " he said without taking breath. 
" You great silly, pink-faced, towheaded turnip ! 
You " 

" You shall not go by this train," repeated Syme. 

«' And why the infernal blazes," roared the other, 
" should I want to go by the train ? " 

"We know all," said the Professor sternly. 
•' You are going to Paris to throw a bomb ! " 

" Going to Jericho to throw a Jabberwock ! " 
cried the other, tearing his hair, which came off 
easily. " Have you all got softening of the brain, 
that you don't realise what I am? Did you really 
think I wanted to catch that train ? Twenty Paris 
trains might go by for me. Damn Paris trains ! " 

" Then what did you care about ? " began the 

"What did I care about? I didn't care about 
catching the train ; I cared about whether the train 
caught me, and now, by God ! it has caught me." 

" I regret to inform you," said Syme with 
restraint, " that your remarks convey no imprcs- 


sion to my mind. Perhaps if you were to remove 
the remains of your original forehead and some 
portion of what was once your chin, your meaning 
would become clearer. Mental lucidity fulfils 
itself in many ways. What do you mean by 
saying that the train has caught you ? It may 
be my literary fancy, but somehow I feel that it 
ought to mean something." 

" It means everything," said the other, " and the 
end of everything. Sunday has us now in the hol- 
low of his hand." 

" Us ! " repeated the Professor, as if stupefied. 
" What do you mean by ' us ' ?" 

" The police, of course ! " said the Marquis, and 
tore off his scalp and half his face. 

The head which emerged was the blonde, well- 
brushed, smooth-haired head which is common in 
the English constabulary, but the face was terribly 

" I am Inspector Ratcliffe," he said, with a sort of 
haste that verged on harshness. " My name is 
pretty well known to the police, and I can see well 
enough that you belong to them. But if there is 

any doubt about my position, I have a card " 

and he began to pull a blue card from his pocket. 

The Professor gave a tired gesture. 


" Oh, don't show it us," he said wearily ; " we've 
got enough of them to equip a paper-chase." 

The httle man named Bull had, like many men 
who seem to be of a mere vivacious vulgarity, sud- 
den movements of good taste. Here he certainly 
saved the situation. In the midst of this staggering 
transformation scene he stepped forward with all 
the gravity and responsibility of a second, and ad- 
dressed the two seconds of the Marquis. 

" Gentlemen," he said, " we all owe you a serious 
apology ; but I assure you that you have not been 
made the victims of such a low joke as you imagine, 
or indeed of anything undignified in a man of hon- 
our. You have not wasted your time ; you have 
helped to save the world. We are not buffoons, but 
very desperate men at war with a vast conspiracy, 
A secret society of anarchists is hunting us like 
hares ; not such unfortunate madmen as may here 
or there throw a bomb through starvation or Ger- 
man philosophy, but a rich and powerful and fanat- 
ical church, a church of eastern pessimism, which 
holds it holy to destroy mankind like vermin. How 
hard they hunt us you can gather from the fact that 
we are driven to such disguises as those for which I 
apologise, and to such pranks as this one by which 
you suffer." 


The younger second of the Marquis, a short man 
with a black moustache, bowed politely, and said — 

" Of course, I accept the apology ; but you will 
in your turn forgive me if I decline to follow you 
further into your difficulties, and permit myself to 
say good-morning ! The sight of an acquaintance 
and distinguished fellow-townsman coming to pieces 
in the open air is unusual, and, upon the whole, 
sufficient for one day. Colonel Ducroix, I would in 
no way influence your actions, but if you feel with 
me that our present society is a little abnormal, I 
am now going to walk back to the town." 

Colonel Ducroix moved mechanically, but then 
tugged abruptly at his white moustache and broke 
out — 

" No, by George ! I won't. If these gentlemen 
are really in a mess with a lot of low wreckers like 
that, I'll see them through it. I have fought for 
France, and it is hard U I can't fight for civilisation." 

Dr. Bull took off his hat and waved it, cheering 
as at a public meeting. 

" Don't make too much noise," said Inspector 
Ratcliffe, " Sunday may hear you." 

" Sunday ! " cried Bull, and dropped his hat. 

" Yes," retorted Ratcliffe, " he may be with them." 

" With whom?" asked Syme. 


" With the people out of that train," said the 

" What you say seems utterly wild," began Syme. 

" Why, as a matter of fact But, my God," he 

cried out suddenly, like a man who sees an explo- 
sion a long way off, " by God ! if this is true the 
whole bally lot of us on the Anarchist Council were 
against anarchy! Every born man was a detective 
except the President and his personal secretary. 
What can it mean ? " 

" Mean ! ' said the new policeman with incredible 
violence. " It means that we are struck dead ! 
Don't you know Sunday ? Don't you know that 
his jokes are always so big and simple that one has 
never thought of them ? Can you think of anything 
more like Sunday than this, that he should put all 
his powerful enemies on the Supreme Council, and 
then take care that it was not supreme ? I tell you, 
he has bought every trust, he has captured every 
cable, he has control of every railway line — especially 
of tJiat railway line ! " and he pointed a shaking 
finger towards the small wayside station. " The 
whole movement was controlled by him ; half the 
world was ready to rise for him. But there were 
just five people, perhaps, who would have resisted 
him . . . and the old devil put them on the 


Supreme Council, to waste their time in watching 
each other. Idiots that we are, he planned the 
whole of our idiocies ! Sunday knew that the Pro- 
fessor would chase Syme through London, and that 
Syme would fight me in France. And he was com- 
bining great masses of capital, and seizing great 
lines of telegraphy, while we five idiots were running 
after each other like a lot of confounded babies 
playing bhnd man's buff." 

" Well ? " asked Syme with a sort of steadiness. 

" Well," rephed the other with sudden serenity, 
'• he has found us playing blind man's buff to-day in 
a field of great rustic beauty and extreme solitude. 
He has probably captured the world ; it only re- 
mains to him to capture this field and all the fools 
in it. And since you really want to know what 
was my objection to the arrival of that train, 
I will tell you. My objection was that Sunday 
or his Secretary has just this moment got out 
of it." 

Syme uttered an involuntary cry, and they all 
turned their eyes towards the far-off station. It 
was quite true that a considerable bulk of people 
seemed to be moving in their direction. But they 
were too distant to be distinguished in any way. 

" It was a habit of the late Marquis de St. Eus- 


tache," said the new policeman, producing a leather 
case, " always to carry a pair of opera-glasses. 
Either the President or the Secretary is coming 
after us with that mob. They have caught us in a 
nice quiet place where we are under no temptations 
to break our oaths by calling the police. Dr. Bull, 
I have a suspicion that you will see better through 
these than through your own highly decorative 

He handed the field-glasses to the Doctor, who 
immediately took off his spectacles and put the 
apparatus to his eyes. 

" It cannot be as bad as you say," said the Pro- 
fessor, somewhat shaken. " There are a good 
number of them certainly, but they may easily be 
ordinary tourists." 

" Do ordinary tourists," asked Bull, with the field- 
glass to his eyes, " wear black masks half-way down 
the face ? " 

Syme almost tore the glasses out of his hand, and 
looked through them. Most men in the advancing 
mob really looked ordinary enough ; but it was 
quite true that two or three of the leaders in front 
wore black half-masks almost down to their 
mouths. This disguise is very complete, especially 
at such a distance, and Syme found it impossible to 


conclude anything from the clean-shaven jaws and 
chins of the men talking in the front. But pres- 
ently as they talked they all smiled, and one of them 
smiled on one side. 



Syme put the field-glass from his eyes with an 
almost ghastly relief. 

"The President is not with them, anyhow," he 
said, and wiped his forehead. 

" But surely they are right away on the horizon," 
said the bewildered Colonel, blinking and but half 
recovered from Bull's hasty though polite explana- 
tion. " Could you possibly know your President 
among all those people?" 

" Could I know a white elephant among all those 
people!" answered Syme somewhat irritably. "As 
you very truly say, they are on the horizon ; but if 
he were walking with them ... by God ! I 
believe this ground would shake." 

After an instant's pause the new man called Rat- 
cliffe said with gloomy decision — 

" Of course the President isn't with them. I wish 
to Gemini he were. Much more likely the Presi- 
dent is riding in triumph through Paris, or sitting 
on the ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral." 

" This is absurd ! " said Syme. " Something 


may have happened in our absence ; but he cannot 
have carried the world with a rush hke that. It is 
quite true," he added, frowning dubiously at the 
distant fields that lay towards the little station, " it 
is certainly true that there seems to be a crowd 
coming this way ; but they are not all the army 
that you make out." 

" Oh, they," said the new detective contemptu- 
ously ; " no, they are not a very valuable force. 
But let me tell you frankly that they are precisely 
calculated to our value — we are not much, my boy, 
in Sunday's universe. He has got hold of all the 
cables and telegraphs himself. But to kill the 
Supreme Council he regards as a trivial matter, 
like a post-card ; it may be left to his private secre- 
tary," and he spat on the grass. 

Then he turned to the others and said somewhat 
austerely — 

" There is a great deal to be said for death ; but 
if any one has any preference for the other alterna- 
tive, I strongly advise him to walk after me." 

With these words, he turned his broad back and 
strode with silent energy towards the wood. The 
others gave one glance over their shoulders, and 
saw that the dark cloud of men had detached itself 
from the station and was moving with a mysterious 


discipline across the plain. They saw already, even 
with the naked eye, black blots on the foremost 
faces, which marked the masks they wore. They 
turned and followed their leader, who had already 
struck the wood, and disappeared among the 
twinkhng trees. 

The sun on the grass was dry and hot. So in 
plunging into the wood they had a cool shock of 
shadow, as of divers who plunge into a dim pool. 
The inside of the wood was full of shattered sunlight 
and shaken shadows. They made a sort of shudder- 
ing veil, almost recalling the dizziness of a cinemato- 
graph. Even the solid figures walking with him 
Syme could hardly see for the patterns of sun and 
shade that danced upon them. Now a man's head 
was lit as with a light of Rembrandt, leaving all 
else obliterated ; now again he had strong and star- 
ing white hands with the face of a negro. The ex- 
Marquis had pulled the old straw hat over his eyes, 
and the black shade of the brim cut his face so 
squarely in two that it seemed to be wearing one of 
the black half-masks of their pursuers. The fancy 
tinted Syme's overwhelming sense of wonder. Was 
he wearing a mask ? Was any one wearing a mask ? 
Was any one anything ? This wood of witchery, in 
which men's faces turned black and white by turns, 


in which their figures first swelled into sunlight and 
then faded into formless night, this mere chaos of 
chiaroscuro (after the clear daylight outside), seemed 
to Syme a perfect symbol of the world in which he 
had been moving for three days, this world where 
men took off their beards and their spectacles and 
their noses, and turned into other people. That 
tragic self-confidence which he had felt when he 
believed that the Marquis was a devil had strangely 
disappeared now that he knew that the Marquis was 
a friend. He felt almost inclined to ask after all 
these bewilderments what was a friend and what an 
enemy. Was there anything that was apart from 
what it seemed ? The Marquis had taken off his 
nose and turned out to be a detective. Might he 
not just as well take off his head and turn out to be 
a hobgoblin ? Was not everything, after all, like 
this bewildering woodland, this dance of dark and 
light? Everything only a glimpse, the glimpse al- 
ways unforeseen, and always forgotten. For Gabriel 
Syme had found in the heart of that sun-splashed 
wood what many modern painters had found there. 
He had found the thing which the modern peo- 
ple call Impressionism, which is another name for 
that final scepticism which can find no floor to the 



As a man in an evil dream strains himself to 
scream and wake, Syme strove with a sudden effort 
to fling off this last and worst of his fancies. With 
two impatient strides he overtook the man in the 
Marquis's straw hat, the man whom he had come 
to address as Ratcliffe. In a voice exaggeratively 
loud and cheerful, he broke the bottomless silence 
and made conversation. 

•* May I ask," he said, " where on earth we are all 
going to ? " 

So genuine had been the doubts of his soul, that 
he was quite glad to hear his companion speak in 
an easy, human voice. 

" We must get down through the town of Lancy 
to the sea," he said, " I think that part of the 
country is least likely to be with them." 

" What can you mean by all this ? " cried Syme. 
" They can't be running the real world in that way. 
Surely not many working men are anarchists, and 
surely if they were, mere mobs could not beat 
modern armies and police." 

" Mere mobs ! " repeated his new friend with a 
snort of scorn. " So you talk about mobs and the 
working classes as if they were the question. 
You've got that eternal idiotic idea that if anarchy 
came it would come from the poor. Why should 


it ? The poor have been rebels, but they have never 
been anarchists ; they have more interest than any 
one else in there being some decent government. 
The poor man really has a stake in the country. 
The rich man hasn't ; he can go away to New 
Guinea in a yacht. The poor have sometimes ob- 
jected to being governed badly ; the rich have al- 
ways objected to being governed at all. Aristocrats 
were always anarchists, as you can see from the 
barons' wars." 

" As a lecture on English history for the little 
ones," said Syme, " this is all very nice ; but I have 
not yet grasped its application." 

" Its application is," said his informant, " that 
most of old Sunday's right-hand men are South 
African and American milHonaires. That is why 
he has got hold of all the communications ; and that 
is why the last four champions of the anti-anarchist 
police force are running through a wood like rab- 

** Millionaires I can understand," said Syme 
thoughtfully, " they are nearly all mad. But get- 
ting hold of a few wicked old gentlemen with hob- 
bies is one thing ; getting hold of great Christian 
nations is another. I would bet the nose off my 
face (forgive the allusion) that Sunday would stand 


perfectly helpless before the task of converting any 
ordinary healthy person anywhere." 

" Well," said the other, " it rather depends what 
sort of person you mean." 

" Well, for instance," said Syme, " we could never 
convert that person," and he pointed straight in 
front of him. 

They had come to an open space of sunlight, 
which seemed to express to Syme the final return 
of his own good sense ; and in the middle of this 
forest clearing was a figure that might well stand 
for that common sense in an almost awful actuality. 
Burnt by the sun and stained with perspiration, and 
grave with the bottomless gravity of small neces- 
sary toils, a heavy French peasant was cutting wood 
with a hatchet. His cart stood a few yards oflT, 
already half full of timber ; and the horse that 
cropped the grass was, like his master, valorous but 
not desperate ; lilcc his master, he was even pros- 
perous, but yet was almost sad. The man was a 
Norman, taller than the average of the French and 
very angular; and his swarthy figure stood dark 
against a square of sunlight, almost like some alle- 
goric figure of labour frescoed on a ground of 

" Mr. Syme is saying," called out RatclifTc to the 


French Colonel, " that this man, at least, will never 
be an anarchist." 

" Mr. Syme is right enough there," answered 
Colonel Ducroix, laughing, " if only for the reason 
that he has plenty of property to defend. But 
I forgot that in your country you are not used to 
peasants being wealthy." 

" He looks poor," said Dr. Bull doubtfully. 

" Quite so," said the Colonel ; " that is why he 
is rich." 

" I have an idea," called out Dr. Bull suddenly ; 
♦* how much would he take to give us a lift in his 
cart? Those dogs are all on foot, and we could 
soon leave them behind." 

" Oh, give him anything ! " said Syme eagerly. 
" I have piles of money on me." 

" That will never do," said the Colonel ; " he will 
never have any respect for you unless you drive a 

** Oh, if he haggles ! " began Bull impatiently. 

" He haggles because he is a free man," said the 
other. " You do not understand ; he would not see 
the meaning of generosity. He is not being tipped." 

And even while they seemed to hear the heavy 
feet of their strange pursuers behind them, they had 
to stand and stamp while the French Colonel talked 


to the French wood-cutter with all the leisurely 
badinage and bickering of market-day. At the end 
of the four minutes, however, they saw that the 
Colonel was right, for the wood- cutter entered into 
their plans, not with the vague servility of a tout 
too-well paid, but with the seriousness of a solicitor 
who had been paid the proper fee. He told them 
that the best thing they could do was to make their 
way down to the little inn on the hills above Lancy, 
where the innkeeper, an old soldier who had become 
divot in his latter years, would be certain to sympa- 
thise with them, and even to take risks in their 
support. The whole company, therefore, piled 
themselves on top of the stacks of wood, and went 
rocking in the rude cart down tiie other and steeper 
side of the woodland. I leavy and ramshackle a.s 
wa.s the vehicle, it was driven (juickly enough, and 
they soon had the exhilarating impression of dis- 
tancing altogether those, whoever the)' were, who 
were hunting them. I''or, after all, the riddle as to 
where tiie anarchists had got all these followers was 
still unsolved. One man's presence had sufficed for 
them ; they had fled at the first sight of the de- 
formed smile of the Secretary. Syme cver>' now 
and then looked back over his shoulder at the army 
on their track. 



As the wood grew first thinner and then smaller 
with distance, he could see the sunlit slopes beyond 
it and above it ; and across these was still moving 
the square black mob like one monstrous beetle. 
In the very strong sunlight and with his own very 
strong eyes, which were almost telescopic, Syme 
could see this mass of men quite plainly. He could 
see th^m as separate human figures ; but he was 
increasingly surprised by the way in which they 
moved as one man. They seemed to be dressed in 
dark clothes and plain hats, like any common crowd 
out of the streets ; but they did not spread and 
sprawl and trail by various lines to the attack, as 
would be natural in an ordinary mob. They moved 
with a sort of dreadful and wicked woodenness, like 
a staring army of automatons. 

Syme pointed this out to Ratcliffe. 

" Yes," replied the policeman, " that's discipline. 
That's Sunday. He is perhaps five hundred miles 
off, but the fear of him is on all of them, like the 
finger of God. Yes, they are walking regularly ; and 
you bet your boots that they are talking regularly, 
yes, and thinking regularly. But the one important 
thing for us is that they are disappearing reg- 

Syme nodded. It was true that the black patch of 



the pursuing men was growing smaller and smaller 
as the peasant belaboured his horse. 

The level of the sunlit landscape, though flat as a 
whole, fell away on the farther side of the wood in 
billows of heavy slope towards the sea, in a way not 
unlike the lower slopes of the Sussex downs. The 
only difference was that in Sussex the road would 
have been broken and angular like a little brook, 
but here the white French road fell sheer in front 
of them like a waterfall. Down this direct descent 
the cart clattered at a considerable angle, and in a 
few minutes, the road growing yet steeper, they saw 
below them the little harbour of Lancy and a great 
blue arc of the sea. The travelling cloud of their 
enemies had wholly disappeared from the horizon. 

The horse and cart took a sharp turn round a 
clump of elms, and the horse's nose nearly struck 
the face of an old gentleman who was sitting on the 
benches outside the little cafe of •' Le Soleil d'Or." 
The peasant grunted an apology, and got down 
from his seat. The others also descended one by 
one, and spoke to the old gentleman with frag- 
mentary phrases of courtesy, for it was quite evi- 
dent from his expansive manner that he was the 
owner of the little t.ivcrn. 

He was a white-haired, apple-faced old boy, with 


sleepy eyes and a grey moustache ; stout, sedentary, 
and very innocent, of a type that may often be 
found in France, but is still commoner in Catholic 
Germany. Everything about him, his pipe, his 
pot of beer, his flowers, his beehive, suggested an 
ancestral peace ; only when his visitors looked up 
as they entered the inn-parlour, they saw the sword 
upon the wall. 

The Colonel, who greeted the innkeeper as an 
old friend, passed rapidly into the inn-parlour, and 
sat down ordering some ritual refreshment. The 
military decision of his action interested Syme, who 
sat next to him, and he took the opportunity when 
the old innkeeper had gone out of satisfying his curi- 

" May I ask you. Colonel," he said in a low voice, 
" why we have come here ? " 

Colonel Ducroix smiled behind his bristly white 

" For two reasons, sir," he said ; " and I will give 
first, not the most important, but the most utilitarian. 
We came here because this is the only place within 
twenty miles in which we can get horses." 

" Horses ! " repeated Syme, looking up quickly. 

"Yes," replied the other; "if you people are 
really to distance your enemies it is horses or noth- 


ing for you, unless of course you have bicycles and 
motor-cars in your pocket." 

" And where do you advise us to make for ? " 
asked Syme doubtfully. 

" Beyond question," replied the Colonel, " you 
had better make all haste to the police station be- 
yond the town. My friend, whom I seconded under 
somewhat deceptive circumstances, seems to me to 
exaggerate very much the possibilities of a general 
rising; but even he would hardly maintain, I sup- 
pose, that you were not safe with the gendarmes." 

Syme nodded gravely ; then he said abruptly — 

" And your other reason for coming here?" 

" My other reason for coming here," said Ducroix 
soberly, " is that it is just as well to sec a good man 
or two when one is possibly near to death." 

Syme looked up at the wall, and saw a crudely- 
painted and pathetic religious picture. Then he 
said — 

" You are right," and then almost immediately 
afterwards, " Has any one seen about tiie horses? " 

" Yes," answered Ducroix, " you may be quite 
certain that I gave orders the moment I came in. 
Those enemies of yours gave no impression of hurrj', 
but they were really moving wonderfully fast, like a 
well-trained army. I had no idea that the anarchists 


had so much discipline. You have not a moment 
to waste." 

Almost as he spoke, the old innkeeper with the 
blue eyes and white hair came ambling into the 
room, and announced that six horses were saddled 

By Ducroix's advice the five others equipped 
themselves with some portable form of food and 
wine, and keeping their duelling swords as the only 
weapons available, they clattered away down the 
steep, white road. The two servants, who had car- 
ried the Marquis's luggage when he was a marquis, 
were left behind to drink at the cafe by common 
consent, and not at all against their own inclination. 

By this time the afternoon sun was slanting west- 
ward, and by its rays Syme could see the sturdy 
figure of the old innkeeper growing smaller and 
smaller, but still standing and looking after them 
quite silently, the sunshine in his silver hair. Syme 
had a fixed, superstitious fancy, left in his mind by 
the chance phrase of the Colonel, that this was in- 
deed, perhaps, the last honest stranger whom he 
should ever see upon the earth. 

He was still looking at this dwindling figure, 
which stood as a mere grey blot touched with a 
white flame against the great green wall of the steep 


down behind him. And as he stared, over the top 
of the down behind tlie innkeeper, there appeared 
an army of black-clad and marching men. They 
seemed to hang above the good man and his house 
like a black cloud of locusts. The horses had been 
saddled none too soon. 



Urging the horses to a gallop, without respect to 
the rather rugged descent of the road, the horse- 
men soon regained their advantage over the men 
on the march, and at last the bulk of the first 
buildings of Lancy cut off the sight of their pur- 
suers. Nevertheless, the ride had been a long one, 
and by the time they reached the real town the 
west was warming with the colour and quality of 
sunset. The Colonel suggested that, before making 
finally for the police station, they should make the 
effort, in passing, to attach to themselves one more 
individual who might be useful. 

" Four out of the five rich men in this town," he 
said, " are common swindlers. I Suppose the pro- 
portion is pretty equal all over the world. The 
fifth is a friend of mine, and a very fine fellow ; 
and what is even more important from our point of 
view, he owns a motor-car." 

" I am afraid," said the Professor in his mirthful 
way, looking back along the white road on which 



the black, crawling patch might appear at any 
moment, " I am afraid we have hardly time for 
afternoon calls." 

" Doctor Renard's house is only three minutes 
off," said the Colonel. 

" Our danger," said Dr. Bull, •' is not t^vo minutes 

" Yes," said Syme, " if we ride on fast we must 
leave them behind, for they are on foot." 

" He has a motor-car," said the Colonel. 

" But we may not get it," said Bull. 

" Yes, he is quite on your side." 

" But he might be out." 

"Hold your tongue," said Syme suddenly. 
•' What is that noise ? " 

For a second they all sat as still as equestrian 
statues, and for a second — for two or three or four 
seconds — heaven and earth seemed equally still. 
Then all their ears, in an agony of attention, heard 
along the road that indescribable thrill and throb 
that means only one thing — horses ! 

The Colonel's face had an instantincous change, 
as if lightning had struck it, and yet left it scathe- 

" They have done us," he said, with brief military 
irony. '• Prepare to receive cavalry ! " 


" Where can they have got the horses ? " asked 
Syme, as he mechanically urged his steed to a 

The Colonel was silent for a little, then he said 
in a strained voice — 

" I w^as speaking with strict accuracy when I said 
that the ' Soleil d'Or ' was the only place where one 
can get horses within twenty miles." 

" No ! " said Syme violently, " I don't believe he'd 
do it. Not with all that white hair." 

" He may have been forced," said the Colonel 
gently. " They must be at least a hundred strong, 
for which reason we are all going to see my friend 
Renard, who has a motor-car." 

With these words he swung his horse suddenly 
round a street corner, and went down the street with 
such thundering speed, that the others, though al- 
ready well at the gallop, had difficulty in following 
the flying tail of his horse. 

Dr. Renard inhabited a high and comfortable 
house at the top of a steep street, so that when the 
riders alighted at his door they could once more see 
the solid green ridge of the hill, with the white road 
across it, standing up above all the roofs of the 
town. They breathed again to see that the road as 
yet was clear, and they rang the bell. 


Dr. Rcnard was a beaming, brown -bearded man, 
a good example of that silent but very busy 
professional class which France has preserved even 
more perfectly than England. When the matter 
was explained to him he pooh-poohed the panic of 
the ex-Marquis altogether ; he said, with the solid 
French scepticism, that there was no conceivable 
probability of a general anarchist rising. '• An- 
archy," he said, shrugging his shoulders, " it is 
childishness ! " 

•• Et ca" cried out the Colonel suddenly, pointing 
over the other's shoulder, " and that is childishness, 
isn't it?" 

They all looked round, and saw a curve of black 
cavalry come sweeping over the top of the hill with 
all the energy of Attila. Swiftly as they rode, how- 
ever, the whole rank still kept well together, and 
they could sec the black vizards of tlic first line as 
level as a line of uniforms. Ihit although the main 
black square was the same, though travelling faster, 
there was now one sensational difference which they 
could see clearly upon the slope of the hill, as if 
upon a slanted map. The bulk of the riders were 
in one block ; but one rider flew far ahead of the 
column, and with frantic movements of hand and 
heel urged his horse faster and faster, so tliat one 


might have fancied that he was not the pursuer but 
the pursued. But even at that great distance they 
could see something so fanatical, so unquestionable 
in his figure, that they knew it was the Secretary 

" I am sorry to cut short a cultured discussion," 
said the Colonel, " but can you lend me your motor- 
car now, in two minutes ? " 

" I 'have a suspicion that you are all mad," said 
Dr. Renard, smiling sociably ; " but God forbid that 
madness should in any way interrupt friendship. 
Let us go round to the garage." 

Dr. Renard was a mild man with monstrous 
wealth ; his rooms were like the Musee de Cluny, 
and he had three motor-cars. These, however, he 
seemed to use very sparingly, having the simple 
tastes of the French middle class, and when his im- 
patient friends came to examine them, it took them 
some time to assure themselves that one of them 
even could be made to work. This with some diffi- 
culty they brought round into the street before 
the Doctor's house. When they came out of the 
dim garage they were startled to find that twilight 
had already fallen with the abruptness of night in 
the tropics. Either they had been longer in the 
place than they imagined, or some unusual canopy 


of cloud had gathered over tlie town. They looked 
down the steep streets, and seemed to sec a shght 
mist coming up from the sea. 

" It is now or never," said Ur. Bull. "I hear horses," 
" No," corrected the Professor, " a horse." 
And as they listened, it was evident that the 
noise, rapidly coming nearer on the rattling stones, 
was not the noise of the whole cavalcade but that 
of the one horseman, who had left it far behind — 
the insane Secretary, 

Syme's family, like most of those who end in the 
simple life, had once owned a motor, and he knew 
all about them. lie had leapt at once into the 
chauffeur's seat, and with flushed face was wrench- 
ing and tugging at the disused machiner>'. He 
bent his strength upon one handle, and then said 
quite quietly — 

" I am afraid it's no go." 

As he spoke, there swept round the corner a man, 
rigid on his rushing horse, with the rush and rigidity 
of an arrow. He had a smile that thrust out his 
chin as if it were dislocated. He swept alongside 
of the stationary car, into which its company had 
crowded, and laid his hand on the front. It was the 
Secretary, and his mouth went quite straight in the 
solemnity of triumph. 


Syme was leaning hard upon the steering wheel, 
and there was no sound but the rumble of the other 
pursuers riding into the town. Then there came 
quite suddenly a scream of scraping iron, and the 
car leapt forward. It plucked the Secretary clean 
out of his saddle, as a knife is whipped out of its 
sheath, trailed him kicking terribly for twenty yards, 
and left him flung flat upon the road far in front of 
his frightened horse. As the car took the corner of 
the street with a splendid curve, they could just see 
the other anarchists filling the street and raising 
their fallen leader. 

" I can't understand why it has grown so dark," 
said the Professor at last in a low voice. 

" Going to be a storm, I think," said Dr. Bull. 
" I say, it's a pity we haven't got a light on this car, 
if only to see by." 

" We have," said the Colonel, and from the floor 
of the car he fished up a heavy, old-fashioned, 
carved iron lantern with a light inside it. It was 
obviously an antique, and it would seem as if its 
original use had been in some way semi-rehgious, 
for there was a rude moulding of a cross upon one 
of its sides. 

" Where on earth did you get that ? " asked the 


" I got it where I got the car," answered the 
Colonel, chuckling, " from my best friend. While 
our friend here was fighting with the steering wheel, 
I ran up the front steps of the house and spoke to 
Renard, who was standing in his own porch, you 
will remember. ' I suppose,' I said, ' there's no time 
to get a lamp.' He looked up, blinking amiably at 
the beautiful arched ceiling of his own front hall. 
From this was suspended, by chains of exquisite 
ironwork, this lantern, one of the hundred treasures 
of his treasure house. By sheer force he tore the 
lamp out of his own ceiling, shattering tlic painted 
panels, and bringing down two blue vases with his 
violence. Then he handed me the iron lantern, and 
I put it in the car. Was I not right when I said 
that Dr. Renard was worth knowing ? " 

" You were," said Syme seriously, and hung the 
heavy lantern over the front. There wa-s a certain 
allegory of their whole position in the contrast be- 
tween the modern automobile and its strange, eccle- 
siastical lamp. 

Hitherto they had passed through the quietest 
part of tile town, meeting at most one or two 
pedestrians, who could give tiiem no hint of the 
peace or the hostility of the place. Now, however, 
the windows in tile houses began one by one to be 


lit up, giving a greater sense of habitation and 
humanity. Dr. Bull turned to the new detective 
who had led their flight, and permitted himself one 
of his natural and friendly smiles. 

" These lights make one feel more cheerful." 

Inspector Ratcliffe drew his brows together. 

•' There is only one set of lights that make me 
more cheerful," he said, " and they are those lights 
of the police station which I can see beyond the 
town. Please God we may be there in ten 

Then all Bull's boiling good sense and optimism 
broke suddenly out of him. 

" Oh, this is all raving nonsense ! " he cried. " If 
you really think that ordinary people in ordinary 
houses are anarchists, you must be madder than an 
anarchist yourself. If we turned and fought these 
fellows, the whole town would fight for us." 

" No," said the other with an immovable sim- 
plicity, " the whole town would fight for them. We 
shall see." 

While they were speaking the Professor had leant 
forward with sudden excitement. 

" What is that noise ? " he said. 

" Oh, the horses behind us, I suppose," said the 
Colonel. «' I thought we had got clear of them." 


*• The horses behind us ! No," said the Professor, 
" it is not horses, and it is not behind us," 

Ahiiost as he spoke, across the end of the street 
before them two shining and rattling shapes shot 
past. They were gone almost in a flash, but every 
one could see that tiicy were motor-cars, and the 
Professor stood up with a pale face and swore 
that they were the other two motor-cars from Dr. 
Renard's garage. 

" I tell you they were his," he repeated, with 
wild eyes, " and they were full of men in 
masks ! " 

" Absurd! "said the Colonel angrily. " Dr. Re- 
nard would never give them his cars." 

" He may have been forced," said RatclifTe 
quietly. " The whole town is on their side." 

" You still believe that," asked the Colonel in- 

«' You will all believe it soon," said the other with 
a hopeless calm. 

There was a puzzled pause for some little time, 
and tlien the Colonel began again abruptly — 

'• No, I can't believe it. The thing is nonsense. 
The plain j)cople of a peaceable P'rench town " 

I le was cut short by a bang and a blaze of light, 
which seemed close to his eyes. As the car sp>ed on 


it left a floating patch of white smoke behind it, 
and Syme had heard a shot shriek past his ear. 

" My God ! " said the Colonel, " some one has shot 
at us." 

" It need not interrupt conversation," said the 
gloomy Ratcliffe. " Pray resume your remarks, 
Colonel. You were talking, I think, about the plain 
people of a peaceable French town." 

The staring Colonel was long past minding satire. 
He rolled his eyes all round the street. 

" It is extraordinary," he said, " most extraor- 

" A fastidious person," said Syme, " might even 
call it unpleasant. However, I suppose those lights 
out in the field beyond this street are the Gendarm- 
erie. We shall soon get there." 

" No," said Inspector RatcHffe, " we shall never 
get there." 

He had been standing up and looking keenly 
ahead of him. Now he sat down and smoothed his 
sleek hair with a weary gesture. 

" What do you mean ? " asked Bull sharply. 

'• I mean that we shall never get there," said the 
pessimist placidly. " They have two rows of armed 
men across the road already ; I can see them from 
here. The town is in arms, as I said it was. I can 


only wallow in the exquisite comfort of my own 

And Ratcliffe sat down comfortably in the car 
and lit a cigarette, but the others rose excitedly and 
stared down the road. Syme had slowed down the 
car as their plans became doubtful, and he brought 
it finally to a standstill just at the corner of a side 
street that ran down very steeply to the sea. 

The town was mostly in shadow, but the sun had 
not sunk ; wherever its level light could break 
through, it painted everything a burning gold. Up 
this side street the last sunset light shone as sharp 
and narrow as the shaft of artificial light at the 
theatre. It struck the car of the five friends, and 
lit it like a burning chariot. IJut the rest of the 
street, especially the two ends of it, was in the 
deepest twilight, and for some seconds they could 
see nothing. Then Syme, whose eyes were the 
keenest, broke into a little bitter whistle, and 
said — 

" It is quite true. There is a crowd or an army 
or some such thing across the end of that street." 

" Well, if there is," saitl Hull impatiently, " it 
must be something else — a sham fight or the 
mayor's birtlulay or something. I cannot and will 
not believe that plain, jolly people in a place like 


this walk about with dynamite in their pockets. 
Get on a bit, Syme, and let us look at them." 

The car crawled about a hundred yards farther, 
and then they were all startled by Dr. Bull breaking 
into a high crow of laughter. 

" Why, you silly mugs ! " he cried, " what did I 
tell you. That crowd's as law-abiding as a cow, 
and if it weren't, it's on our side." 

"How do you know?" asked the Professor, 

" You bUnd bat," cried Bull, *' don't you see who 
is leading them ? " 

They peered again, and then the Colonel, with a 
catch in his voice, cried out — 

" Why, it's Renard ! " 

There was, indeed, a rank of dim figures running 
across the road, and they could not be clearly seen ; 
but far enough in front to catch the accident of the 
evening light was stalking up and down the unmis- 
takable Dr. Renard, in a white hat, stroking his 
long brown beard, and holding a revolver in his left 

" What a fool I've been ! " exclaimed the Colonel. 
" Of course, the dear old boy has turned out to help 

Dr. Bull was bubbling over with laughter, swing- 


ing the sword in his hand as carelessly as a cane. 
He jumped out of the car and ran across the 
intervening space, caUing out — 

" Dr. Renard ! Dr. Renard ! " 

An instant after Symc thought his own eyes had 
gone mad in his head. For the philanthropic Dr. 
Renard had deliberately raised his revolver and 
fired twice at Bull, so that the shots rang down the 

Almost at the same second as the pufT of white 
cloud went up from this atrocious explosion a long 
puff of white cloud went up also from the cigarette 
of the cynical Ratcliffe. Like all the rest he turned 
a little pale, but he smiled. Dr. Hull, at whom the 
bullets had been fired, just missing his scalp, stood 
quite still in the middle of the road without a sign 
of fear, and then turned very slowly and crawled 
back to the car, and climbed in with two holes 
through his hat. 

•• Well," said the cigarette smoker slowly, " what 
do you think now?" 

" I think," said Dr. liuil with precision, " that I 
am lying in bed at No. 217 Tcabody Huildingr;, and 
that I shall soon wake up with a jump ; or, if that's 
not it, I think that I am sittin;^ in a small cushioned 
cell in H.inwell, and that the doctor can't make 


much of my case. But if you want to know what 
I don't think, I'll tell you. I don't think what you 
think. I don't think, and I never shall think, that 
the mass of ordinary men are a pack of dirty modern 
thinkers. No, sir, I'm a democrat, and I still don't 
beheve that Sunday could convert one average 
navvy or counter-jumper. No, I may be mad, but 
humanity isn't." 

Syme turned his bright blue eyes on Bull with an 
earnestness which he did not commonly make clear. 

" You are a very fine fellow," he said. " You can 
believe in a sanity which is not merely your sanity. 
And you're right enough about humanity, about 
peasants and people like that jolly old innkeeper. 
But you're not right about Renard. I suspected 
him from the first. He's rationalistic, and, what's 
worse, he's rich. When duty and religion are really 
destroyed, it will be by the rich." 

" They are really destroyed now," said the man 
with a cigarette, and rose with his hands in his 
pockets. " The devils are coming on! " 

The men in the motor-car looked anxiously in 
the direction of his dreamy gaze, and they saw that 
the whole regiment at the end of the road was ad- 
vancing upon them, Dr. Renard marching furiously 
in front, his beard flying in the breeze. 


The Colonel sprang out of the car with an intol- 
erant exclamation. 

" Gentlemen," he cried, " the thing is incredible. 
It must be a practical joke. If you knew Renard as 
I do — it's like calling Queen Victoria a dynamiter. 
If you had got the man's character into your 
head " 

" Dr. Hull," said Symc sardonically, " has at least 
got it into his hat." 

" I tell you it can't be ! " cried the Colonel, stamp- 
ing. " Renard shall explain it. 1 le shall explain 
it to mc," and he strode forward. 

" Don't be in such a hurry," drawled the smoker, 
" He will very soon explain it to all of us." 

But the impatient Colonel was already out of ear- 
shot, advancing towards the advancing enemy. 
The excited Dr. Renard lifted his pistol again, but 
perceiving his opponent, hesitated, and the Colonel 
came face to face with him with frantic gestures of 

" It is no good," said Syme. " He will never get 
anything out of that old heathen. I vote we drive 
bang through the thick of them, bang as the bullets 
went through lUiU's hat. We may all be killed, but 
we must kill a tidy number of them." 

" I won't 'ave it," said Dr. Hull, growing more 


vulgar in the sincerity of his virtue. " The poor 
chaps may be making a mistake. Give the Colonel 
a chance." 

" Shall we go back, then?" asked the Professor. 

" No," said Ratcliffe in a cold voice, " the street 
behind us is held too. In fact, I seem to see there 
another friend of yours, Syme." 

Syme spun round smartly, and stared backwards 
at the track which they had travelled. He saw an 
irregular body of horsemen gathering and galloping 
towards them in the gloom. He saw above the 
foremost saddle the silver gleam of a sword, and 
then as it grew nearer the silver gleam of an old 
man's hair. The next moment, with shattering 
violence, he had swung the motor round and sent 
it dashing down the steep side street to the sea, like 
a man that desired only to die. 

" What the devil is up ? " cried the Professor, 
seizing his arm. 

" The morning star has fallen ! " said Syme, as his 
own car went down the darkness like a falling 

The others did not understand his words, but 
when they looked back at the street above they saw 
the hostile cavalry coming round the corner and 
down the slopes after them ; and foremost of all 


rode the good innkeeper, flushed with tlie fiery in- 
nocence of the evening Ught. 

" The world is insane ! " said the Professor, and 
buried his face in his hands. 

" No," said Dr. Bull in adamantine humility, " it 
is I." 

" What are we going to do ? " asked the Professor. 

" At this moment," said Syme, with a scientific 
detachment, " 1 think we are going to smash into a 

The next instant the automobile had come with a 
catastrophic jar against an iron object. The instant 
after that four men had crawled out from under a 
chaos of metal, and a tall, lean lamp-post that had 
stood up straight on the edge of the marine parade 
stood out, bent and twisted, like the branch of a 
broken tree. 

" Well, we smashed something," said the Professor, 
with a faint smile. " That's some comfort." 

" You're becoming an anarchist," said Syme, 
dusting his clothes with his instinct of daintiness. 

" Every one is," said Ratcliffe. 

As they spoke, the white-haired horseman and 
his followers came thundering from above, and 
almost at the same moment a dark string of men 
ran shouting along the sea-front. Syme snatched a 


swordy and took it in his teeth ; he stuck two others 
under his arm-pits, took a fourth in his left hand 
and the lantern in his right, and leapt off the high 
parade on to the beach below. 

The others leapt after him, with a common ac- 
ceptance of such decisive action, leaving the debris 
and the gathering mob above them. 

" We have one more chance," said Syme, taking 
the steel out of his mouth. " Whatever all this 
pandemonium means, I suppose the police station 
will help us. We can't get there, for they hold the 
way. But there's a pier or breakwater runs out 
into the sea just here, which we could defend longer 
than anything else, like Horatius and his bridge. 
We must defend it till the Gendarmerie turn out. 
Keep after me," 

They followed him as he went crunching down 
the beach, and in a second or two their boots broke 
not on the sea gravel, but on broad, flat stones. 
They marched down a long, Iqw jetty, running out 
in one arm into the dim, boiling sea, and when they 
came to the end of it they felt that they had come 
to the end of their story. They turned and faced 
the town. 

That town was transfigured with uproar. All 
along the high parade from which they had just 


descended was a dark and roaring stream of 
humanity, with tossing arms and fiery faces, grop- 
ing and glaring towards them. The long dark line 
was dotted with torches and lanterns ; but even 
where no flame lit up a furious face, they could see 
in the farthest figure, in the most shadowy gesture, 
an organised hate. It was clear that they were the 
accursed of all men, and they knew not why. 

Two or three men, looking little and black Hke 
monkeys, leapt over the edge as they had done and 
dropped on to the beach. These came ploughing 
down the deep sand, shouting horribly, and strove 
to wade into the sea at random. The example was 
followed, and the whole black mass of men began to 
run and drip over the edge like black treacle. 

Foremost among the men on the beach Syme saw 
the peasant who had driven their cart. He splashed 
into the surf on a huge cart-horse, and shook his axe 
at them. 

" The peasant ! " cried Syme. " They have not 
risen since the Middle Ages." 

" Even if the police do come now," said the Pro- 
fessor mournfully, " they can do nothing with this 

" Nonsense ! " said Bull desperately ; " there must 
be some people left in the town who are human." 


" No," said the hopeless Inspector, " the human 
being will soon be extinct. We are the last of man- 

" It may be," said the Professor absently. Then 
he added in his dreamy voice, " What is all that at 
the end of the ' Dunciad ' ? 

" 'Nor public flame, nor private, dares to shine 
Nor human life is left, nor glimpse divine ! 
Lo ! thy dread Empire, Chaos, is restored ; 
Light dies before thine uncreating word : 
Thy hand, great Anarch, lets the curtain fall ; 
And universal darkness buries all.' " 

" Stop ! " cried Bull suddenly, " the gendarmes 
are out." 

The low lights of the police station were indeed 
blotted and broken with hurrying figures, and they 
heard through the darkness the clash and jingle of a 
disciplined cavalry. 

" They are charging the mob ! " cried Bull in 
ecstasy or alarm. 

" No," said Syme, " they are formed along the 

" They have unslung their carbines," cried Bull, 
dancing with excitement. 

" Yes," said Ratcliffe, " and they are going to fire 
on us." 


As he spoke there came a long crackle of 
musketry, and bullets seemed to hop like hailstones 
on the stones in front of them. 

" The gendarmes have joined them ! " cried the 
Professor, and struck his forehead. 

" I am in the padded cell," said Bull 

There was a long silence, and then Ratcliffe said, 
looking out over the swollen sea, all a sort of grey 
purple — 

" What does it matter who is mad or who is sane ? 
We shall all be dead soon." 

Syme turned to him and said — 

" You are quite hopeless, then ? " 

Mr. Ratcliffe kept a stony silence ; then at last he 
said quietly — 

" No ; oddly enough I am not quite hopeless. 
There is one insane little hope that I cannot get out 
of my mind. The power of this whole planet is 
against us, yet I cannot help wondering whether this 
one silly little hope is hopeless yet." 

" In what or whom is your hope ? " asked Syme 
with curiosity. 

" In a man I never saw," said the other, looking 
at the leaden sea. 

** I know what you mean," said Syme in a low 


voice, " the man in the dark room. But Sunday- 
must have killed him by now." 

" Perhaps," said the other steadily ; " but if so, 
he was the only man whom Sunday found it hard 
to kill." 

" I heard what you said," said the Professor, with 
his back turned. " I also am holding hard on to the 
thing I never saw." 

All of a sudden Syme, who was standing as if 
blind with introspective thought, swung round and 
cried out, like a man waking from sleep — 

" Where is the Colonel ? I thought he was with 

" The Colonel ! Yes," cried Bull," where on earth 
is the Colonel ? " 

" He went to speak to Renard," said the Pro- 

" We cannot leave him among all those beasts," 
cried Syme. " Let us die like gentlemen if " 

" Do not pity the Colonel," said Ratchffe, with a 
pale sneer. " He is extremely comfortable. He 
is " 

" No ! no ! no ! " cried Syme in a kind of frenzy, 
" not the Colonel too ! I will never believe it ! " 

" Will you believe your eyes ? " asked the other, 
and pointed to the beach. 


Many of their pursuers had waded into the water 
shaking their fists, but the sea was rough, and they 
could not reach the pier. Two or three figures, 
however, stood on the beginning of the stone foot- 
way, and seemed to be cautiously advancing down 
it. The glare of a chance lantern lit up the faces of 
the two foremost. One face wore a black half- 
mask, and under it the mouth was twisting about in 
such a madness of nerves that the black tuft of 
beard wriggled round and round like a restless, 
living thing. The other was the red face and white 
moustache of Colonel Ducroix. They were in 
earnest consultation. 

" Yes, he is gone too," said the Professor, and 
sat down on a stone. " Everything's gone. I'm 
gone! I can't trust my own bodily machinery. I 
feel as if my own hand might fly up and strike 

" When my hand flies up," said Syme, " it will 
strike somebody else," and he strode along the pier 
towards the Colonel, the sword in one hand and the 
lantern in the other. 

As if to destroy the last hope or doubt, the 
Colonel, who saw him coming, pointed his revolver 
at him and fired. The shot missed Symc, but 
struck his sword, breaking it short at the hilt. 



Syme rushed on, and swung the iron lantern above 
his head. 

" Judas before Herod ! " he said, and struck the 
Colonel down upon the stones. Then he turned to 
the Secretary, whose frightful mouth was almost 
foaming now, and held the lamp high with so rigid 
and arresting a gesture, that the man was, as it 
were, frozen for a moment, and forced to hear. 

" Do you see this lantern ? " cried Syme in a 
terrible voice. " Do you see the cross carved on 
it, and the flame inside? You did not make it. 
You did not light it. Better men than you, men 
who could believe and obey, twisted the entrails of 
iron and preserved the legend of fire. There is not 
a street you walk on, there is not a thread you 
wear, that was not made as this lantern was, by 
denying your philosophy of dirt and rats. You 
can make nothing. You can only destroy. You 
will destroy mankind ; you will destroy the world. 
Let that suflfice you. Yet this one old Christian 
lantern you shall not destroy. It shall go where your 
empire of apes will never have the wit to find it." 

He struck the Secretary once with the lantern so 
that he staggered ; and then, whirling it twice round 
his head, sent it flying far out to sea, where it flared 
like a roaring rocket and fell. 


" Swords ! " shouted Syme, turning his flaming 
face to the three behind him. " Let us charge these 
dogs, for our time has come to die." 

His three companions came after him sword in 
hand. Syme's sword was broken, but he rent a 
bludgeon from the fist of a fisherman, flinging him 
down. In a moment they would have flung them- 
selves upon the face of the mob and perished, when 
an interruption came. The Secretary, ever since 
Syme's speech, had stood with his hand to his 
stricken head as if dazed ; now he suddenly pulled 
off his black mask. 

The pale face thus peeled in the \amplight re- 
vealed not so much rage as astonishment. He put 
up his hand with an anxious authority. 

" There is some mistake," he said. " Mr. Syme, 
I hardly think you understand your position. I 
arrest you in the name of the law." 

" Of the law ? " said Syme, and dropped his 

" Certainly ! " said the Secretary. " I am a de- 
tective from Scotland Yard," and he took a small 
blue card from his pocket. 

" And what do you suppose we are? " asked the 
Professor, and threw up his arms. 

" You," said the Secretary stiffly, " are, as I know 


for a fact, members of the Supreme Anarchist 
Council. Disguised as one of you, I " 

Dr. Bull tossed his sword into the sea. 

" There never was any Supreme Anarchist Coun- 
cil," he said. " We were all a lot of silly policemen 
looking at each other. And all these nice people who 
have been peppering us with shot thought we were 
the dynamiters. I knew I couldn't be wrong about 
the mob," he said, beaming over the enormous 
multitude, which stretched away to the distance on 
both sides. " Vulgar people are never mad. I'm 
vulgar myself, and I know. I am now going on 
shore to stand a drink to everybody here." 



Next morning five bewildered but hilarious 
people took the boat for Dover. The poor old 
Colonel might have had some cause to complain, 
having been fii-st forced to fight for two factions that 
didn't exist, and then knocked down with an iron 
lantern. But he was a magnanimous old gentle- 
man, and being much relieved that neither party 
had anything to do with dynamite, he saw them off 
on the pier with great geniality. 

The five reconciled detectives had a hundred 
details to explain to each other. The Secretary 
had to tell Syme how they had come to wear 
masks originally in order to approach the supposed 
enemy as fellow-conspirators ; Syme had to explain 
how they had fled with such swiftness through a 
civilised country, l^ut above all these matters of 
detail which could be explained, rose the central 
mountain of the matter that they could not explain. 
What did it all mean? If they were all harmless 

officers, what was Sunday? If he had not seized 



the world, what on earth had he been up to ? 
Inspector RatcHffe was still gloomy about this. 

" I can't make head or tail of old Sunday's little 
game any more than you can," he said. " But 
whatever else Sunday is, he isn't a blameless citizen. 
Damn it ! do you remember his face ? " 

" I grant you," answered Syme, " that I have 
never been able to forget it." 

•' Well," said the Secretary, " I suppose we can 
find out soon, for to-morrow we have our next 
general meeting. You will excuse me," he said, 
with a rather ghastly smile, " for being well ac- 
quainted with my secretarial duties." 

" I suppose you are right," said the Professor 
reflectively. " I suppose we might find it out from 
him ; but I confess that I should feel a bit afraid of 
asking Sunday who he really is." 

" Why," asked the Secretary, " for fear of 
bombs ? " 

" No," said the Professor, " for fear he might tell 

" Let us have some drinks," said Dr. Bull, after a 

Throughout their whole journey by boat and 
train they were highly convivial, but they instinc- 
tively kept together. Dr. Bull, who had always 


been the optimist of the party, endeavoured to 
persuade the other four that the whole company 
could take the same hansom cab from Victoria ; but 
this was overruled, and they went in a four- 
wheeler, with Dr. Bull on the box, singing. They 
finished their journey at an hotel in Piccadilly Cir- 
cus, so as to be close to the early breakfast next 
morning in Leicester Square. Yet even then the 
adventures of the day were not entirely over. Dr. 
Bull, discontented with the general proposal to go 
to bed, had strolled out of the hotel at about eleven 
to see and taste some of the beauties of London. 
Twenty minutes afterwards, however, he came back 
and made quite a clamour in the hall. Syme, who 
tried at first to soothe him, was forced at last to 
listen to his communication with quite new at- 

" I tell you I've seen him ! " said Dr. Bull, with 
thick emphasis. 

" Whom ? " asked Syme quickly. " Not the 
President ? " 

" Not so bad as that," said Dr. l^ull, with un- 
necessary laughter, " not so bad as that. I've got 
him here." 

" Got whom here ? " asked Syme impatiently. 

" Hairy man," said the other lucidly, " man that 


used to be hairy man — Gogol. Here he is," and 
he pulled forward by a reluctant elbow the identical 
young man who five days before had marched out 
of the Council with thin red hair and a pale face, 
the first of all the sham anarchists who had been 

•« Why do you worry with me ? " he cried. " You 
have expelled me as a spy." 

" We are all spies ! " whispered Syme. 

" We're all spies ! " shouted Dr. Bull. " Come 
and have a drink." 

Next morning the battalion of the reunited six 
marched stolidly towards the hotel in Leicester 

" This is more cheerful," said Dr. Bull ; " we 
are six men going to ask one man what he 

" I think it is a bit queerer than that," said Syme. 
"< I think it is six men going to ask one man what 
they mean." 

They turned in silence into the Square, and 
though the hotel was in the opposite corner, they 
saw at once the little balcony and a figure that 
looked too big for it. He Avas sitting alone with 
bent head, poring over a newspaper. But all his 
councillors, who had come to vote him down, crossed 


that square as if they were watched out of heaven 
by a hundred eyes. 

They had disputed much upon their poHcy, about 
whether they should leave the unmasked Gogol 
without and begin diplomatically, or whether they 
should bring him in and blow up the gunpowder at 
once. The influence of Syme and Bull prevailed for 
the latter course, though the Secretary to the last 
asked them why they attacked Sunday so rashly. 

" My reason is quite simple," said Syme. " I 
attack him rashly because I am afraid of him." 

They followed Syme up the dark stair in silence, 
and they all came out simultaneously into the broad 
sunlight of the morning and the broad sunlight of 
Sunday's smile. 

" Delightful ! " he said. " So pleased to see you 
all. What an exquisite day it is. Is the Czar 
dead ? " 

The Secretary, who happened to be foremost, 
drew himself together for a dignified outburst. 

" No, sir," he said sternly, " there has been no 
massacre. I bring you news of no such disgusting 

" Disgusting spectacles ? " repeated the President, 
with a bright, inquiring smile. " You mean Dr. Bull's 
spectacles ? " 


The Secretary choked for a moment, and the 
President went on with a sort of smooth appeal — 

" Of course, we all have our opinions and even 
our eyes, but really to call them disgusting before 
the man himself " 

Dr. Bull tore off his spectacles and broke them 
on the table. 

" My spectacles are blackguardly," he said, " but 
I'm not. Look at my face." 

" I dare say it's the sort of face that grows on 
one," said the President, " in fact, it grows on you ; 
and who am I to quarrel with the wild fruits upon 
the Tree of Life ? I dare say it will grow on me 
some day." 

" We have no time for tomfoolery," said the Sec- 
retary, breaking in savagely. " We have come to 
know what all this means. Who are you ? What 
are you ? Why did you get us all here ? Do you 
know who and what we are ? Are you a half-witted 
man playing the conspirator, or are you a clever 
man playing the fool? Answer me, I tell you." 

" Candidates," murmured Sunday, " are only re- 
quired to answer eight out of the seventeen ques- 
tions on the paper. As far as I can make out, you 
want me to tell you what I am, and what you are, 
and what this table is, and what this Council is, and 


what this world is for all I know. Well, I will go 
so far as to rend the veil of one m)'ster)'. If you 
want to know what you are, you are a set of highly 
well-intentioned young jackasses." 

" And you," said Syme, leaning forward, " what 
are you ? " 

" I ? What am I ? " roared the President, and he 
rose slowly to an incredible height, like some enor- 
mous wave about to arch above them and break. 
"You want to know what I am, do you? BuH, 
you are a man of science. Grub in the roots of 
those trees and find out the truth about them. 
Syme, you are a poet. Stare at those morning 
clouds, and tell me or any one the truth about 
morning clouds. But I tell you this, that you will 
have found out the truth of the last tree and the 
topmost cloud before the truth about me. You 
will understand the sea, and I shall be still a riddle » 
you shall know what the stars are, and not know 
what I am. Since the beginning of the world all 
men have hunted me like a wolf — kings and sages, 
and poets and law-givers, all the churches, and all 
the philosophies. But I have never been caught 
yet, and the skies will fall in the time I turn to bay. 
I have given them a good run for their money, and 
I will now." 


Before one of them could move, the monstrous 
man had swung himself like some huge ourang- 
outang over the balustrade of the balcony. Yet 
before he dropped he pulled himself up again as on 
a horizontal bar, and thrusting his great chin over 
the edge of the balcony, said solemnly — 

" There's one thing I'll tell you though about 
who I am. I am the man in the dark room, who 
made you all poHcemen." 

With that he fell from the balcony, bouncing on 
the stones below like a great ball of india-rubber, 
and went bounding off towards the corner of the 
Alhambra, where he hailed a hansom-cab and sprang 
inside it. The six detectives had been standing 
thunderstruck and livid in the light of his last asser- 
tion ; but when he disappeared into the cab, Syme's 
practical senses returned to him, and leaping over 
the balcony so recklessly as almost to break his legs, 
he called another cab. 

He and Bull sprang into the cab together, the 
Professor and the Inspector into another, while the 
Secretary and the late Gogol scrambled into a third 
just in time to pursue the flying Syme, who was 
pursuing the flying President. Sunday led them a 
wild chase towards the northwest, his cabman, 
evidently under the influence of more than common 


inducements, urging the horse at breakneck speed. 
But Syme was in no mood for delicacies, and he 
stood up in his own cab shouting, " Stop thief ! " 
until crowds ran along beside his cab, and police- 
men began to stop and ask questions. All this had 
its influence upon the President's cabman, who be- 
gan to look dubious, and to slow down to a trot. 
He opened the trap to talk reasonably to his fare, 
and in so doing let the long whip droop over the 
front of the cab. Sunday leant forward, seized it, 
and jerked it violently out of the man's hand. Then 
standing up in front of the cab himself, he lashed 
the horse and roared aloud, so that they went down 
the streets like a flying storm. Through street after 
street and square after square went whirling this pre- 
posterous vehicle, in which the fare was urging 
the horse and the driver trying desperately to stop 
it. The other three cabs came after it (if the 
phrase be permissible of a cab) like panting hounds. 
Shops and streets shot by like rattling arrows. 

At the highest ecstasy of speed, Sunday turned 
round on the splashboard where he stood, and stick- 
ing his great grinning head out of the cab, with 
white hair whistling in the wind, he made a horrible 
face at his pursuers, like some colossal urchin. Then 
raising his right hand swiftly, he flung a ball of paper 


in Syme's face and vanished. Syme caught the 
thing while instinctively warding it off, and dis- 
covered that it consisted of two crumpled papers. 
One was addressed to himself, and the other to Dr. 
Bull, with a very long, and it is to be feared partly 
ironical, string of letters after his name. Dr. Bull's 
address was, at any rate, considerably longer than 
his communication, for the communication consisted 
entirely of the words : — 

" What about Martin Tupper now ? " 

" What does the old maniac mean ? " asked Bull, 
staring at the words. '• What does yours say, 
Syme ? " 

Syme's message was, at any rate, longer, and ran 
as follows : — 

*' No one would regret anything in the nature of 
an interference by the Archdeacon more than I. 
I trust it will not come to that. But, for the last 
time, where are your goloshes ? The thing is too 
bad, especially after what uncle said." 

The President's cabman seemed to be regaining 
some control over his horse, and the pursuers 
gained a little as they swept round into the Edgware 


Road. And here there occurred what seemed to the 
aUies a providential stoppage. Traffic of every kind 
was swerving to right or left or stopping, for down 
the long road was coming the unmistakable roar 
announcing the fire-engine, which in a few seconds 
went by like a brazen thunder-bolt. But quick as 
it went by, Sunday had bounded out of his cab, 
sprung at the fire-engine, caught it, slung himself 
on to it, and was seen as he disappeared in the noisy 
distance talking to the astonished fireman with ex- 
planatory gestures. 

" After him ! " howled Syme. " He can't go 
astray now. There's no mistaking a fire-engine." 

The three cabmen, who had been stunned for a 
moment, whipped up their horses and slightly de- 
creased the distance between themselves and their 
disappearing prey. The President acknowledged 
this proximity by coming to the back of the car, 
bowing repeatedly, kissing his hand, and finally 
flinging a neatly-folded note into the bosom of 
Inspector Ratcliffe. When that gentleman opened 
it, not without impatience, he found it contained 
the words : — 

" Fly at once. The truth about your trouser- 
stretchers is known. — A Friend." 


The fire-engine had struck still farther to the 
north, into a region that they did not recognise ; 
and as it ran by a line of high railings shadowed 
with trees, the six friends were startled, but some- 
what relieved, to see the President leap from the 
fire-engine, though whether through another whim 
or the increasing protest of his entertainers they 
could not see. Before the three cabs, however, 
could reach up to the spot, he had gone up the high 
railings like a huge grey cat, tossed himself over, 
and vanished in a darkness of leaves. 

Syme with a furious gesture stopped his cab, 
jumped out, and sprang also to the escalade. When 
he had one leg over the fence and his friends were 
following, he turned a face on them which shone 
quite pale in the shadow. 

" What place can this be ? " he asked. " Can it 
be the old devil's house ? I've heard he has a house 
in North London." 

" All the better," said the Secretary grimly, plant- 
ing a foot in a foothold, " we shall find him at home." 

" No, but it isn't that," said Syme, knitting his 
brows. " I hear the most horrible noises, like devils 
laughing and sneezing and blowing their devilish 
noses ! " 

" His dogs barking, of course," said the Secretary. 


" Why not say his black-beetles barking ! " said 
Syme furiously, " snails barking ! geraniums bark- 
ing ! Did you ever hear a dog bark like that ? " 

He held up his hand, and there came out of the 
thicket a long, growling roar that seemed to get 
under the skin and freeze the flesh — a low thrilling 
roar that made a throbbing in the air all about them. 

" The dogs of Sunday would be no ordinary dogs," 
said Gogol, and shuddered. 

Syme had jumped down on the other side, but he 
still stood listening impatiently. 

" Well, listen to that," he said, " is that a dog — 
anybody's dog? " 

There broke upon their ear a hoarse screaming 
as of things protesting and clamouring in sudden 
pain ; and then, far off like an echo, what sounded 
like a long nasal trumpet. 

" Well, his house ought to be hell ! " said the Sec- 
retary; "and if it is hell, I'm going in ! " and he 
sprang over the tall railings almost with one swing. 

The others followed. They broke through a 
tangle of plants and shrubs, and came out on an 
open path. Nothing was in sight, but Dr. Bull 
suddenly struck his hands together. 

" Why, you asses," he cried, " it's the Zoo ! " 

As they were looking round wildly for any trace 


of their wild quarry, a keeper in uniform came run- 
ning along the path with a man in plain clothes. 

" Has it come this way ? " gasped the keeper. 

" Has what ? " asked Syme. 

" The elephant ! " cried the keeper. "An elephant 
has gone mad and run away ! " 

" He has run away with an old gentleman," said 
the other stranger breathlessly, " a poor old gentle- 
man with white hair ! " 

" What sort of old gentleman ? " asked Syme, 
with great curiosity. 

" A very large and fat old gentleman in light 
grey clothes," said the keeper eagerly. 

" Well," said Syme, " if he's that particular kind 
of old gentleman, if you're quite sure that he's a 
large and fat old gentleman in grey clothes, you 
may take my word for it that the elephant has not 
run away with him. He has run away with the 
elephant. The elephant is not made by God that 
could run away with him if he did not consent to 
the elopement. And, by thunder, there he is ! " 

There was no doubt about it this time. Clean 
across the space of grass, about two hundred yards 
away, with a crowd screaming and scampering vainly 
at his heels, went a huge grey elephant at an awful 
stride, with his trunk thrown out as rigid as a ship's 


bowsprit, and trumpeting like the trumpet of doom. 
On the back of the bellowing and plunging animal 
sat President Sunday with all the placidity of a 
sultan, but goading the animal to a furious speed 
with some sharp object in his hand. 

" Stop him ! " screamed the populace. " He'll be 
out of the gate ! " 

" Stop a landslide ! " said the keeper. " He is 
out of the gate ! " 

And even as he spoke, a final crash and roar of 
terror announced that the great grey elephant had 
broken out of the gates of the Zoological Gardens, 
and was careering down Albany Street like a new 
and swift sort of omnibus. 

" Great Lord ! " cried Bull, " I never knew an 
elephant could go so fast. Well, it must be hansom- 
cabs again if we are even to keep him in sight." 

As they raced along to the gate out of which the 
elephant had vanished, Syme felt a glaring panorama 
of the strange animals in the cages which they 
passed. Afterwards he thought it queer that he 
should have seen them so clearly. He remembered 
especially seeing pelicans, with their preposterous, 
pendant throats. He wondered why the pelican 
was the symbol of charity, except it was that it 
wanted a good deal of charity to admire a pelican. 


He remembered a hornbill, which was simply a huge 
yellow beak with a small bird tied on behind it. 
The whole gave him a sensation, the vividness of 
which he could not explain, that Nature was always 
making quite mysterious jokes. Sunday had told 
them that they would understand him when 
they had understood the stars. He wondered 
whether even the archangels understood the horn- 

The six unhappy detectives flung themselves into 
cabs and followed the elephant, sharing the terror 
which he spread through the long stretch of the 
streets. This time Sunday did not turn round, but 
offered them the solid stretch of his unconscious 
back, which maddened them, if possible, more than 
his previous mockeries. Just before they came to 
Baker Street, however, he was seen to throw some- 
thing far up into the air, as a boy does a ball mean- 
ing to catch it again. But at their rate of racing 
it fell far behind, just by the cab containing Gogol ; 
and in faint hope of a clue or for some impulse 
unexplainable, he stopped his cab so as to pick it 
up. It was addressed to himself, and was quite a 
bulky parcel. On examination, however, its bulk 
was found to consist of thirty -three pieces of paper 
of no value wrapped one round the other. When 


the last covering was torn away it reduced itself to 
a small slip of paper, on which was written : — 

" The word, I fancy, should be ' pink.' " 

The man once known as Gogol said nothing, but 
the movements of his hands and feet were like 
those of a man urging a horse to renewed efforts. 

Through street after street, through district after 
district, went the prodigy of the flying elephant, 
calling crowds to every window, and driving the 
traffic left and right. And still through all this 
insane publicity the three cabs toiled after it, until 
they came to be regarded as part of a procession, 
and perhaps the advertisement of a circus. They 
went at such a rate that distances were shortened 
beyond belief, and Syme saw the Albert Hall in 
Kensington when he thought that he was still in 
Paddington. The animal's pace was even more 
fast and free through the empty, aristocratic streets 
of South Kensington, and he finally headed to- 
wards that part of the sky-line where the enormous 
Wheel of Earl's Court stood up in the sky. The 
wheel grew larger and larger, till it filled heaven 
like the wheel of stars. 

The beast outstripped the cabs. They lost him 
round several corners, and when they came to one 


of the gates of the Earl's Court Exhibition they 
found themselves finally blocked. In front of them 
was an enormous crowd ; in the midst of it was an 
enormous elephant, heaving and shuddering as 
such shapeless creatures do. But the President 
had disappeared. 

" Where has he gone to ? " asked Syme, shpping 
to the ground. 

" Gentleman rushed into the Exhibition, sir ! " 
said an official in a dazed manner. Then he 
added in an injured voice: "Funny gentleman, 
sir. Asked me to hold his horse, and gave me 

He held out with distaste a piece of folded paper, 
addressed : " To the Secretary of the Central 
Anarchist Council." 

The Secretary, raging, rent it open, and found 
written inside it : — 

" When the herring runs a mile, 
Let the Secretary smile; 
When the herring tries to fly, 
Let the Secretary die. 

Rustic Proverb." 

*' Why the eternal crikey," began the Secretary, 
«' did you let the man in ? Do people commonly 


come to your Exhibition riding on mad elephants ? 
Do " 

" Look ! " shouted Syme suddenly. " Look over 

" Look at what ? " asked the Secretary savagely. 

" Look at the captive balloon ! " said Syme, and 
pointed in a frenzy. 

" Why the blazes should I look at a captive 
balloon ? " demanded the Secretary. " What is 
there queer about a captive balloon ? " 

" Nothing," said Syme, " except that it isn't 
captive ! " 

They all turned their eyes to where the balloon 
swung and swelled above the Exhibition on a 
string, like a child's balloon. A second afterwards 
the string came in two just under the car, and the 
balloon, broken loose, floated away with the free- 
dom of a soap bubble. 

" Ten thousand devils ! " shrieked the Secretary. 
" He's got into it ! " and he shook his fists at the 

The balloon, borne by some chance wind, came 
right above them, and they could sec the great 
white head of the President peering over the side 
and looking benevolently down on them. 

"God bless my soul !" said the Professor with 


the elderly manner that he could never disconnect 
from his bleached beard and parchment face. 
" God bless my soul ! I seemed to fancy that 
something fell on the top of my hat ! " 

He put up a trembling hand and took from that 
shelf a piece of twisted paper, which he opened 
absently, only to find it inscribed with a true lover's 
knot and the words : — 

" Your beauty has not left me indifferent. — 
From Little Snowdrop." 

There was a short silence, and then Syme said, 
biting his beard — 

" I'm not beaten yet. The blasted thing must 
come down somewhere. Let's follow it ! " 



Across green fields, and breaking through bloom- 
ing hedges, toiled six draggled detectives, about five 
miles out of London. The optimist of the party- 
had at first proposed that they should follow the 
balloon across South England in hansom-cabs. But 
he was ultimately convinced of the persistent re- 
fusal of the balloon to follow the roads, and the still 
more persistent refusal of the cabmen to follow the 
balloon. Consequently the tireless though ex- 
asperated travellers broke through black thickets 
and ploughed through ploughed fields till each was 
turned into a figure too outrageous to be mistaken 
for a tramp. Those green hills of Surrey saw the 
final collapse and tragedy of the admirable light 
grey suit in which Syme had set out from Saffron 
Park. His silk hat was broken over his nose by a 
swinging bough, his coat-tails were torn to the 
shoulder by arresting thorns, the clay of England was 
splashed up to his collar ; but he still carried his 
yellow beard forward with a silent and furious de- 



termination, and his eyes were still fixed on that 
floating ball of gas, which in the full flush of sunset 
seemed coloured like a sunset cloud. 

" After all," he said, " it is very beautiful ! " 

" It is singularly and strangely beautiful ! " said 
the Professor. " I wish the beastly gas-bag would 
burst ! " 

" No," said Dr. Bull, " I hope it won't. It might 
hurt the old boy." 

" Hurt him ! " said the vindictive Professor, 
" hurt him ! Not as much as I'd hurt him if I 
could get up with him. Little Snowdrop ! " ' 

" I don't want him hurt, somehow," said Dr. 

" What ! " cried the Secretary bitterly. " Do you 
believe all that tale about his being our man in the 
dark room ? Sunday would say he was anybody." 

" I don't know whether I believe it or not," said 
Dr. Bull. " But it isn't that that I mean. I can't 
wish old Sunday's balloon to burst because " 

" Well," said Syme impatiently, " because?" 

" Well, because he's so jolly like a balloon him- 
self," said Dr. Bull desperately. " I don't under- 
stand a word of all that idea of his being the same 
man who gave us all our blue cards. It seems to 
make everything nonsense. But I don't care who 


knows it, I always had a sympathy for old Sunday 
himself, wicked as he was. Just as if he was a great 
bouncing baby. How can 1 explain what my queer 
sympathy was ? It didn't prevent my fighting him 
like hell ! Shall I make it clear if I say that I hked 
him because he was so fat ? " 

" You will not," said the Secretary. 

" I've got it now," cried Bull, " it was because he 
was so fat and so light. Just like a balloon. We 
always think of fat people as heavy, but he could 
have danced against a sylph. I see now what I 
mean. Moderate strength is shown in violence, 
supreme strength is shown in levity. It was like 
the old speculations — what would happen if an 
elephant could leap up in the sky like a grass- 
hopper ?" 

" Our elephant," said Syme, looking upwards, 
" has leapt into the sky like a grasshopper." 

" And somehow," concluded Bull, " that's why I 
can't help liking old Sunday. No, it's not an ad- 
miration of force, or any silly thing like that. 
There is a kind of gaiety in the thing, as if he were 
bursting with some good news. Haven't you some- 
times felt it on a spring day ? You know Nature 
plays tricks, but somehow that day proves they are 
good-natured tricks. I never read the Bible myself. 


but that part they laugh at is Hteral truth, * Why- 
leap ye, ye high hills ? ' The hills do leap — at least, 
they try to. . . . Why do I like Sunday ? 
. . . how can I tell you ? . . . because he's 
such a Bounder." 

There was a long silence, and then the Secretary 
said in a curious, strained voice — 

" You do not know Sunday at all. Perhaps it is 
because you are better than I, and do not know hell. 
I was a fierce fellow, and a trifle morbid from the 
first. The man who sits in darkness, and who chose 
us all, chose me because I had all the crazy look of 
a conspirator — because my smile went crooked, and 
my eyes were gloomy, even when I smiled. But 
there must have been something in me that answered 
to the nerves in all these anarchic men. For when 
I first saw Sunday he expressed to me, not your 
airy vitality, but something both gross and sad in 
the Nature of Things. I found him smoking in a 
twilight room, a room with brown blind down, 
infinitely more depressing than the genial darkness 
in which our master lives. He sat there on a bench, 
a huge heap of a man, dark and out of shape. He 
listened to all my words without speaking or even 
stirring. I poured out my most passionate appeals, 
and asked my most eloquent questions. Then, 


after a long silence, the Thing began to shake, and 
I thought it was shaken by some secret malady. 
It shook like a loathsome and living jelly. It 
reminded me of everything I had ever read about 
the base bodies that are the origin of life — the deep 
sea lumps and protoplasm. It seemed like the final 
form of matter, the most shapeless and the most 
shameful. I could only tell myself, from its shud- 
derings, that it was something at least that such a 
monster could be miserable. And then it broke 
upon me that the bestial mountain was shaking with 
a lonely laughter, and the laughter was at me. Do 
you ask me to forgive him that? It is no small 
thing to be laughed at by something at once lower 
and stronger than oneself." 

" Surely you fellows are exaggerating wildly," 
cut in the clear voice of Inspector Ratchffe. " Presi- 
dent Sunday is a terrible fellow for one's intellect, 
but he is not such a Barnum's freak physically as 
you make out. He received me in an ordinary 
office, in a grey check coat, in broad daylight. He 
talked to me in an ordinary way. But I'll tell you 
what is a trifle creepy about Sunday. His room is 
neat, his clothes are neat, everything seems in order; 
but he's absent-minded. Sometimes his great 
bright eyes go quite blind. For hours he forgets 


that you are there. Now absent-mindedness is just 
a bit too awful in a bad man. We think of a wicked 
man as vigilant. We can't think of a wicked man 
who is honestly and sincerely dreamy, because we 
daren't think of a wicked man alone with himself. 
An absent-minded man means a good-natured man. 
It means a man who, if he happens to see you, will 
apologise. But how will you bear an absent-minded 
man who, if he happens to see you, will kill you ? 
That is what tries the nerves, abstraction combined 
with cruelty. Men have felt it sometimes when 
they went through wild forests, and felt that the 
animals there were at once innocent and pitiless. 
They might ignore or slay. How would you like 
to pass ten mortal hours in a parlour with an absent- 
minded tiger?" 

"And what do you think of Sunday, Gogol ? " 
asked Syme. 

" I don't think of Sunday on principle," said 
Gogol simply, " any more than I stare at the sun at 

"Well, that is a point of view," said Syme 
thoughtfully. " What do you say, Professor ? " 

The Professor was walking with bent head 
and trailing stick, and he did not answer 
at all. 


" Wake up, Professor ! " said Syme genially. 
" Tell us what you think of Sunday." 

The Professor spoke at last very slowly. 

" I think something," he said, " that I cannot say 
clearly. Or, rather, I think something that I can- 
not even think clearly. But it is something hke 
this. My early life, as you know, was a bit too 
large and loose. Well, when I saw Sunday's face I 
thought it was too large — everybody does, but I 
also thought it was too loose. The face was so 
big, that one couldn't focus it or make it a face at 
all. The eye was so far away from the nose, that 
it wasn't an eye. The mouth was so much by 
itself, that one had to think of it by itself. The 
whole thing is too hard to explain." 

He paused for a httle, still trailing his stick, and 
then went on — 

" But put it this way. Walking up a road at 
night, I have seen a lamp and a lighted window 
and a cloud make together a most complete and 
unmistakable face. If any one in heaven has that 
face I shall know him again. Yet when I walked a 
little farther I found that there was no face, that 
the window was ten yards away, the lamp ten 
hundred yards, the cloud beyond the world. Well, 
Sunday's face escaped me ; it ran away to right and 


left, as such chance pictures run away. And so his 
face has made me, somehow, doubt whether there 
are any faces. I don't know whether your face, 
Bull, is a face or a combination in perspective. 
Perhaps one black disc of your beastly glasses is 
quite close and another fifty miles away. Oh, the 
doubts of a materialist are not worth a dump, Sun- 
day has taught me the last and the worst doubts, 
the doubts of a spiritualist. I am a Buddhist, I 
suppose ; and Buddhism is not a creed, it is a doubt. 
My poor dear Bull, I do not believe that you really 
have a face. I have not faith enough to believe in 

Syme's eyes were still fixed upon the errant orb, 
which, reddened in the evening light, looked like 
some rosier and more innocent world. 

" Have you noticed an odd thing," he said, 
" about all your descriptions ? Each man of you 
finds Sunday quite different, yet each man of you 
can only find one thing to compare him to — the 
universe itself. Bull finds him like the earth in 
spring, Gogol like the sun at noonday. The Secre- 
tary is reminded of the shapeless protoplasm, and 
the Inspector of the carelessness of virgin forests. 
The Professor says he is like a changing landscape. 
This is queer, but it is queerer still that I also have 


had my odd notion about the President, and I 
also find that I think of Sunday as I think of the 
whole world." 

" Get on a little faster, Syme," said Bull ; " never 
mind the balloon." 

" When I first saw Sunday," said Syme slowly, 
" I only saw his back ; and when I saw his back, I 
knew he was the worst man in the world. His 
neck and shoulders were brutal, like those of some 
apish god. His head had a stoop that was hardly 
human, like the stoop of an ox. In fact, I had at 
once the revolting fancy that this was not a man at 
all, but a beast dressed up in men's clothes." 

" Get on," said Dr. Bull. 

" And then the queer thing happened. I had 
seen his back from the street, as he sat in the 
balcony. Then I entered the hotel, and coming 
round the other side of him, saw his face in the 
sunlight. I lis face frightened me, as it did every 
one ; but not because it was brutal, not because it 
was evil. On the contrary, it frightened me because 
it was so beautiful, because it was so good." 

" Syme," exclaimed the Secretary, " are you 
ill ? " 

" It was like the face of some ancient archangel, 
judging justly after heroic wars. There was laugh- 


ter in the eyes, and in the mouth honour and 
sorrow. There was the same white hair, the same 
great, grey-clad shoulders that I had seen from 
behind. But when I saw him from behind I was 
certain he was an animal, and when I saw him in 
front I knew he was a god." 

" Pan," said the Professor dreamily, " was a god 
and an animal." 

" Then, and again and always," went on Syme, 
like a man talking to himself, " that has been for 
me the mystery of Sunday, and it is also the mys- 
tery of the world. When I see the horrible back, I 
am sure the noble face is but a mask. When I see 
the face but for an instant, I know the back is only 
a jest. Bad is so bad, that we cannot but think 
good an accident; good is so good, that we feel 
certain that evil could be explained. But the whole 
came to a kind of crest yesterday when I raced 
Sunday for the cab, and was just behind him all 
the way." 

" Had you time for thinking then ? " asked 

" Time," replied Syme, " for one outrageous 
thought. I was suddenly possessed with the idea 
that the blind, blank back of his head really was his 
face — an awful, eyeless face staring at me ! And I 


fancied that the figure running in front of me was 
really a figure running backwards, and dancing as 
he ran." 

" Horrible ! " said Dr. Bull, and shuddered. 

" Horrible is not the word," said Syme. " It was 
exactly the worst instant of my life. And yet ten 
minutes afterwards, when he put his head out of 
the cab and made a grimace like a gargoyle, I knew 
that he was only like a father playing hide-and- 
seek with his children." 

" It is a long game," said the Secretary, and 
frowned at his broken boots. 

" Listen to me," cried Syme with extraordinary 
emphasis. " Shall I tell you the secret of the whole 
world ? It is that we have only known the back of 
the world. We see everything from behind, and 
it looks brutal. That is not a tree, but the back 
of a tree. That is not a cloud, but the back of a 
cloud. Cannot you see that everything is stooping 
and hiding a face ? If we could only get round in 
front " 

" Look ! " cried out Bull clamorously, "the balloon 
is coming down ! " 

There was no need to cry out to Syme, who had 
never taken his eyes off it. He saw the great 
luminous globe suddenly stap[gcr in the sky, right 


itself, and then sink slowly behind the trees like a 
setting sun. 

The man called Gogol, who had hardly spoken 
through all their weary travels, suddenly threw up 
his hands like a lost spirit. 

" He is dead ! " he cried. " And now I know he 
was my friend — my friend in the dark ! " 

" Dead ! " snorted the Secretary. " You will not 
find him dead easily. If he has been tipped out of 
the car, we shall find him rolling as a colt rolls in a 
field, kicking his legs for fun." 

" Clashing his hoofs," said the Professor. " The 
colts do, and so did Pan." 

•' Pan again ! " said Dr. Bull irritably. " You 
seem to think Pan is everything." 

" So he is," said the Professor, " in Greek. He 
means everything." 

" Don't forget," said the Secretary, looking down, 
" that he also means Panic." 

Syme had stood without hearing any of the 

" It fell over there," he said shortly. " Let us 
follow it ! " 

Then he added with an indescribable gesture — 

" Oh, if he has cheated us all by getting killed ! 
It would be like one of his larks." 


He strode off towards the distant trees with a 
new energy, his rags and ribbons fluttering in the 
wind. The others followed him in a more footsore 
and dubious manner. And almost at the same mo- 
ment all six men realised that they were not alone 
in the little field. 

Across the square of turf a tall man was advanc- 
ing towards them, leaning on a strange long staff 
like a sceptre. He was clad in a fine but old- 
fashioned suit with knee-breeches; its colour was 
that shade between blue, violet and grey which can 
be seen in certain shadows of the woodland. His 
hair was whitish grey, and at the first glance, taken 
along with his knee-breeches, looked as if it was 
powdered. His advance was very quiet; but for 
the silver frost upon his head, he might have been 
one of the shadows of the wood. 

" Gentlemen," he said, " my master has a carriage 
waiting for you in the road just by." 

" Who is your master ? " asked Syme, standing 

quite still. 

" I was told you knew his name," said the man 


There was a silence, and then the Secretary 

said — 

" Where is this carriage ? " 


" It has been waiting only a few moments," said 
the stranger. " My master has only just come 

Syme looked left and right upon the patch of green 
field in which he found himself. The hedges were 
ordinary hedges, the trees seemed ordinary trees ; 
yet he felt hke a man entrapped in fairy-land. 

He looked the mysterious ambassador up and 
down, but he could discover nothing except that 
the man's coat was the exact colour of the purple 
shadows, and that the man's face was the exact 
colour of the red and brown and golden sky. 

" Show us the place," Syme said briefly, and 
without a word the man in the violet coat turned 
his back and walked towards a gap in the hedge, 
which let in suddenly the hght of a white road. 

As the six wanderers broke out upon this thor- 
oughfare, they saw the white road blocked by what 
looked like a long row of carriages, such a row of 
carriages as might close the approach to some house 
in Park Lane. Along the side of these carriages 
stood a rank of splendid servants, all dressed in the 
grey-blue uniform, and all having a certain quality 
of stateliness and freedom which would not com- 
monly belong to the servants of a gentleman, but 
rather to the officials and ambassadors of a great 


king. There were no less than six carriages wait- 
ing, one for each of the tattered and miserable 
band. All the attendants (as if in court-dress) wore 
swords, and as each man crawled into his carriage 
they drew them, and saluted with a sudden blaze of 

" What can it all mean ? " asked Bull of Syme as 
they separated. '• Is this another joke of Sun- 
day's ? " 

" I don't know," said Syme as he sank wearily 
back in the cushions of his carriage ; " but if it is, 
it's one of the jokes you talk about. It's a good- 
natured one." 

The six adventurers had passed through many 
adventures, but not one had carried them so utterly 
off their feet as this last adventure of comfort. 
They had all become inured to things going 
roughly ; but things suddenly going smoothly 
swamped them. They could not even feebly 
imagine what the carriages were ; it was enough 
for them to know that they were carriages, and 
carriages with cushions. They could not conceive 
who the old man was who had led them ; but it 
was quite enough that he had certainly led them to 
the carriages. 

Syme drove through a drifting darkness of trees 


in utter abandonment. It was typical of him that 
while he had carried his bearded chin forward 
fiercely so long as anything could be done, when 
the whole business was taken out of his hands he 
fell back on the cushions in a frank collapse. 

Very gradually and very vaguely he realised into 
what rich roads the carriage was carrying him. He 
saw that they passed the stone gates of what might 
have been a park, that they began gradually to 
climb a hill which, while wooded on both sides, was 
somewhat more orderly than a forest. Then there 
began to grow upon him, as upon a man slowly 
waking from a healthy sleep, a pleasure in every- 
thing. He felt that the hedges were what hedges 
should be, living walls ; that a hedge is like a 
human army, disciplined, but all the more alive. 
He saw high elms behind the hedges, and vaguely 
thought how happy boys would be climbing there. 
Then his carriage took a turn of the path, and he 
saw suddenly and quietly, like a long, low, sunset 
cloud, a long, low house, mellow in the mild light 
of sunset. All the six friends compared notes after- 
wards and quarrelled ; but they all agreed that in 
some unaccountable way the place reminded them 
of their boyhood. It was either this elm-top or that 
crooked path, it was either this scrap of orchard or 


that shape of a window ; but each man of them 
declared that he could remember this place before 
he could remember his mother. 

When the carriages eventually rolled up to a large, 
low, cavernous gateway, another man in the same 
uniform, but wearing a silver star on the grey breast 
of his coat, came out to meet them. This impress- 
ive person said to the bewildered Syme — 

'• Refreshments are provided for you in your 

Syme, under the influence of the same mesmeric 
sleep of amazement, went up the large oaken stairs 
after the respectful attendant. He entered a splen- 
did suite of apartments that seemed to be designed 
specially for him. He walked up to a long mirror 
with the ordinary instinct of his class, to pull his 
tie straight or to smooth his hair ; and there he saw 
the frightful figure that he was — blood running down 
his face from where the bough had struck him, his 
hair standing out like yellow rags of rank grass, his 
clothes torn into long, wavering tatters. At once 
the whole enigma sprang up, simply as the question 
of how he had got there, and how he was to get out 
again. Exactly at the same moment a man in blue, 
who had been appointed as his valet, said very 
solemnly — 


" I have put out your clothes, sir." 

" Clothes ! " said Syme sardonically. " I have no 
clothes except these," and he lifted two long strips 
of his frock-coat in fascinating festoons, and made 
a movement as if to twirl hke a ballet girl. 

" My master asks me to say," said the attendant, 
" that there is a fancy dress ball to-night, and that 
he desires you to put on the costume that I have 
laid out. Meanwhile, sir, there is a bottle of Bur- 
gundy and some cold pheasant, which he hopes you 
will not refuse, as it is some hours before supper." 

" Cold pheasant is a good thing," said Syme re- 
flectively, ** and Burgundy is a spanking good thing. 
But really I do not want either of them so much as 
I want to know what the devil all this means, and 
what sort of costume you have got laid out for 
me. Where is it ? " 

The servant lifted off a kind of ottoman a long 
peacock-blue drapery, rather of the nature of a 
domino, on the front of which was emblazoned a 
large golden sun, and which was splashed here and 
there with flaming stars and crescents. 

" You're to be dressed as Thursday, sir," said the 
valet somewhat affably. 

" Dressed as Thursday ! " said Syme in meditation, 
" It doesn't sound a warm costume." 


" Oh, yes, sir," said the other eagerly, " the Thurs- 
day costume is quite warm, sir. It fastens up to 
the chin." 

" Well, I don't understand anything," said Syme, 
sighing. " I have been used so long to uncom- 
fortable adventures that comfortable adventures 
knock me out. Still, I may be allowed to ask why 
I should be particularly like Thursday in a green 
frock spotted all over with the sun and moon. 
Those orbs, I think, shine on other days. I once 
saw the moon on Tuesday, I remember." 

" Beg pardon, sir," said the valet, " Bible also 
provided for you," and with a respectful and rigid 
finger he pointed out a passage in the first chapter 
of Genesis. Syme read it wondering. It was that 
in which the fourth day of the week is associated 
with the creation of the sun and moon. Here, 
however, they reckoned from a Christian Sunday. 

" This is getting wilder and wilder," said Syme, 
as he sat down in a chair. " Who are these people 
who provide cold pheasant and Burgundy, and green 
clothes and Bibles ? Do they provide everything ? " 

" Yes, sir, everything," said the attendant gravely. 
** Shall I help you on with your costume ? " 

" Oh, hitch the bally thing on ! " said Syme im- 


But though he affected to despise the mummery, 
he felt a curious freedom and naturalness in his 
movements as the blue and gold garment fell about 
him ; and when he found that he had to wear a 
sword, it stirred a boyish dream. As he passed out 
of the room he flung the folds across his shoulder 
with a gesture, his sword stood out at an angle, and 
he had all the swagger of a troubadour. For these 
disguises did not disguise, but reveal. 



As Syme strode along the corridor he saw the 
Secretary standing at the tOj^.: of a great flight of 
stairs. The man had never looked so noble. He 
was draped in a long robe of starless black, down 
the centre of which fell a band or broad stripe of 
pure white, like a single shaft of light. The whole 
looked like some very severe ecclesiastical vestment. 
There was no need for Syme to search his memory 
or the Bible in order to remember that the first day 
of creation marked the mere creation of light out of 
darkness. The vestment itself would alone have sug- 
gested the symbol ; and Syme felt also how perfectly 
this pattern of pure white and black expressed the 
soul of the pale and austere Secretary, with his in- 
human veracity and his cold frenzy, which made 
him so easily make war on the anarchists, and yet 
so easily pass for one of them. Syme was scarcely 
surprised to notice that, amid all the ease and hos- 
pitality of their new surroundings, this man's eyes 

were still stern. No smell of ale or orchards could 



make the Secretary cease to ask a reasonable ques- 

If Syme had been able to see himself, he would 
have realised that he, too, seemed to be for the first 
time himself and no one else. For if the Secretary 
stood for that philosopher who loves the original 
and formless light, Syme was a type of the poet who 
seeks always to make the light in special shapes, to 
split it up into sun and star. The philosopher may 
sometimes love the infinite ; the poet always loves 
the finite. For him the great moment is not the 
creation of light, but the creation of the sun and 

As they descended the broad stairs together they 
overtook Ratcliffe, who was clad in spring green like 
a huntsman, and the pattern upon whose garment 
was a green tangle of trees. For he stood for that 
third day on which the earth and green things were 
made, and his square, sensible face, with its not 
unfriendly cynicism, seemed appropriate enough 
to it. 

They were led out of another broad and low gate- 
way into a very large old English garden, full of 
torches and bonfires, by the broken light of which 
a vast carnival of people were dancing in motley 
dress. Syme seemed to see every shape in Nature 


imitated in some crazy costume. There was a man 
dressed as a windmill with enormous sails, a man 
dressed as an elephant, a man dressed as a balloon ; 
the two last, together, seemed to keep the thread 
of their farcical adventures. Syme even saw, with 
a queer thrill, one dancer dressed like an enormous 
hornbill, with a beak twice as big as himself — the 
queer bird which had fixed itself on his fancy like a 
living question while he was rushing down the long 
road at the Zoological Gardens. There were a 
thousand other such objects, however. There was 
a dancing lamp-post, a dancing apple tree, a dancing 
ship. One would have thought that the untamable 
tune of some mad musician had set all the common 
objects of field and street dancing an eternal jig. 
And long afterwards, when Syme was middle-aged 
and at rest, he could never see one of those particu- 
lar objects — a lamp-post, or an apple tree, or a wind- 
mill — without thinking that it was a strayed reveller 
from that revel of masquerade. 

On one side of this lawn, alive with dancers, was 
a sort of green bank, like the terrace in such old- 
fashioned gardens. 

Along this, in a kind of crescent, stood seven 
great chairs, the thrones of the seven days. Gogol 
and Dr. Bull were already in their seats; the 


Professor was just mounting to his. Gogol, or 
Tuesday, had his simplicity well symbolised by a 
dress designed upon the division of the waters, a 
dress that separated upon his forehead and fell to 
his feet, grey and silver, like a sheet of rain. The 
Professor, whose day was that on which the birds 
and fishes — the ruder forms of life — were created, 
had a dress of dim purple, over which sprawled 
goggle-eyed fishes and outrageous tropical birds, 
the union in him of unfathomable fancy and of 
doubt. Dr. Bull, the last day of Creation, wore a 
coat covered with heraldic animals in red and gold, 
and on his crest a man rampant. He lay back in 
his chair with a broad smile, the picture of an opti- 
mist in his element. 

One by one the wanderers ascended the bank 
and sat in their strange seats. As each of them sat 
down a roar of enthusiasm rose from the carnival, 
such as that with which crowds receive kings. Cups 
were clashed and torches shaken, and feathered hats 
flung in the air. The men for whom these thrones 
were reserved were men crowned with some ex- 
traordinary laurels. But the central chair was 

Syme was on the left hand of it and the Secre- 
tary on the right. The Secretary looked across the 


empty throne at Syme, and said, compressing his 
lips — 

" We do not know yet that he is not dead in a 

Almost as Syme heard the words, he saw on the 
sea of human faces in front of him a frightful and 
beautiful alteration, as if heaven had opened behind 
his head. But Sunday had only passed silently 
along the front like a shadow, and had sat in the 
central seat. He was draped plainly, in a pure and 
terrible white, and his hair was like a silver flame on 
his forehead. 

For a long time — it seemed for hours — that huge 
masquerade of mankind swayed and stamped in 
front of them to marching and exultant music. 
Every couple dancing seemed a separate romance ; 
it might be a fairy dancing with a pillar-box, or a 
peasant girl dancing with the moon ; but in each 
case it was, somehow, as absurd as Alice in Won- 
derland, yet as grave and kind as a love story. At 
last, however, the thick crowd began to thin itself. 
Couples strolled away into the garden-walks, or be- 
gan to drift towards that end of the building where 
stood smoking, in huge pots like fish-kettles, some 
hot and scented mixtures of old ale or wine. Above 
all these, upon a sort of black framework on the roof 


of the house, roared in its iron basket a gigantic 
bonfire, which Ht up the land for miles. It flung 
the homely effect of firelight over the face of vast 
forests of grey or brown, and it seemed to fill with 
warmth even the emptiness of upper night. Yet 
this also, after a time, was allowed to grow fainter ; 
the dim groups gathered more and more round the 
great cauldrons, or passed, laughing and clattering, 
into the inner passages of that ancient house. Soon 
there were only some ten loiterers in the garden ; 
soon only four. Finally the last stray merry-maker 
ran into the house whooping to his companions. 
The fire faded, and the slow, strong stars came out. 
And the seven strange men were left alone, Hke 
seven stone statues on their chairs of stone. Not 
one of them had spoken a word. 

They seemed in no haste to do so, but heard in 
silence the hum of insects and the distant song of 
one bird. Then Sunday spoke, but so dreamily 
that he might have been continuing a conversation 
rather than beginning one. 

" We will eat and drink later," he said. " Let us 
remain together a little, we who have loved each 
other so sadly, and have fought so long. I seem to 
remember only centuries of heroic war, in which 
you were always heroes — epic on epic, iliad on 


iliad, and you always brothers in arms. Whether 
it was but recently (for time is nothing), or at the 
beginning of the world, I sent you out to war. I 
sat in the darkness, where there is not any created 
thing, and to you I was only a voice commanding 
valour and an unnatural virtue. You heard the 
voice in the dark, and you never heard it again. 
The sun in heaven denied it, the earth and sky 
denied it, all human wisdom denied it. And 
when I met you in the dayhght I denied it my- 

Syme stirred sharply in his seat, but otherwise 
there was silence, and the incomprehensible went 

" But you were men. You did not forget your 
secret honour, though the whole cosmos turned an 
engine of torture to tear it out of you. I knew 
how near you were to hell. I know how you, 
Thursday, crossed swords with King Satan, and 
how you, Wednesday, named me in the hour with- 
out hope." 

There was complete silence in the starlit garden, 
and then the black-browed Secretary, implacable, 
turned in his chair towards Sunday, and said in a 
harsh voice — 

" Who and what are you ? " 


" I am the Sabbath," said the other without 
moving. " I am the peace of God." 

The Secretary started up, and stood crushing his 
costly robe in his hand. 

" I know what you mean," he cried, " and it is 
exactly that that I cannot forgive you. I know 
you are contentment, optimism, what do they call 
the thing, an ultimate reconciliation. Well, I am 
not reconciled. If you were the man in the dark 
room, why were you also Sunday, an offence to the 
sunlight ? If you were from the first our father 
and our friend, why were you also our greatest 
enemy ? We wept, we fled in terror ; the iron 
entered into our souls — and you are the peace of God ! 
Oh, I can forgive God His anger, though it destroyed 
nations ; but I cannot forgive Him His peace." 

Sunday answered not a word, but very slowly he 
turned his face of stone upon Syme as if asking a 

" No," said Syme, " I do not feel fierce like that. 
I am grateful to you, not only for wine and hospi- 
tahty here, but for many a fine scamper and free 
fight. But I should like to know. My soul and 
heart are as happy and quiet here as this old gar- 
den, but my reason is still crying out. I should 
like to know." 


Sunday looked at Ratcliffe, whose clear voice 
said — 

" It seems so silly that you should have been on 
both sides and fought yourself." 

Bull said — 

" I understand nothing, but I am happy. In 
fact, I am going to sleep." 

" I am not happy," said the Professor with his 
head in his hands, " because I do not understand. 
You let me stray a little too near to hell." 

And then Gogol said, with the absolute simplicity 
of a child — 

" I wish I knew why I was hurt so much." 

Still Sunday said nothing, but only sat with his 
mighty chin upon his hand, and gazed at the dis- 
tance. Then at last he said — 

"I have heard your complaints in order. And 
here, I think, comes another to complain, and we 
will hear him also." 

The falling fire in the great cresset threw a last 
long gleam, like a bar of burning gold, across the 
dim grass. Against this fiery band was outlined in 
utter black the advancing legs of a black-clad 
figure. He seemed to have a fine close suit with 
knee-breeches such as that which was worn by the 
servants of the house, only that it was not blue, but 


of this absolute sable. He had, like the servants, 
a kind of sword by his side. It was only when he 
had come quite close to the crescent of the seven 
and flung up his face to look at them, that Syme 
saw, with thunderstruck clearness, that the face was 
the broad, almost ape-like face of his old friend 
Gregory, with its rank red hair and its insulting 

" Gregory ! " gasped Syme, half-rising from his 
seat. " Why, this is the real anarchist ! " 

" Yes," said Gregory, with a great and dangerous 
restraint, •' I am the real anarchist." 

•" And there came a day,' " murmured Bull, who 
seemed really to have fallen asleep, " * when the 
sons of God came before the Lord, and Satan also 
came with them.' " 

" You are right," said Gregory, and gazed all 
round. " I am a destroyer. I would destroy the 
world if I could." 

A sense of a pathos far under the earth stirred 
up in Syme, and he spoke brokenly and without 

" Oh, most unhappy man," he cried, « try 
to be happy ! You have red hair like your 

" My red hair, like red flames, shall burn up the 


world," said Gregory. " I thought I hated every- 
thing more than common men can hate anything ; 
but I find that I do not hate everything so much as 
I hate you ! " 
" I never hated you," said Syme very sadly. 
Then out of this unintelligible creature the last 
thunders broke. 

«« You ! " he cried. " You never hated because 
you never lived. I know what you are all of you, 
from first to last— you are the people in power! 
You are the police— the great fat, smiling men in 
blue and buttons ! You are the Law, and you have 
never been broken. But is there a free soul alive 
that does not long to break you, only because you 
have never been broken ? We in revolt talk all 
kind of nonsense doubtless about this crime or that 
crime of the Government. It is all folly! The 
only crime of the Government is that it governs. 
The unpardonable sin of the supreme power is that 
it is supreme. I do not curse you for being cruel. 
I do not curse you (though I might) for being kind. 
I curse you for being safe ! You sit in your chairs 
of stone, and have never come down from them. 
You are the seven angels of heaven, and you have 
had no troubles. Oh, I could forgive you every- 
thing, you that rule all mankind, if I could feel for 


once that you had suffered for one hour a real 
agony such as I " 

Syme sprang to his feet, shaking from head to 

" I see everything," he cried, " everything that 
there is. Why does each thing on the earth war 
against each other thing? Why does each small 
thing in the world have to fight against the world 
itself? Why does a fly have to fight the whole 
universe ? Why does a dandelion have to fight the 
whole universe ? For the same reason that I had 
to be alone in the dreadful Council of the Days. 
So that each thing that obeys law may have the 
glory and isolation of the anarchist. So that each 
man fighting for order may be as brave and good a 
man as the dynamiter. So that the real lie of 
Satan may be flung back in the face of this blasphe- 
mer, so that by tears and torture we may earn the 
right to say to this man, ' You lie ! ' No agonies 
can be too great to buy the right to say to this ac- 
cuser, ' We also have suffered.' 

" It is not true that we have never been broken. 
We have been broken upon the wheel. It is not 
true that we have never descended from these 
thrones. We have descended into hell. We were 
complaining of unforgettable miseries even at the 


very moment when this man entered insolently to 
accuse us of happiness. I repel the slander; we 
have not been happy, I can answer for every one 
of the great guards of Law whom he has accused. 
At least " 

He had turned his eyes so as to see suddenly the 
great face of Sunday, which wore a strange smile. 

" Have you," he cried in a dreadful voice, " have 
you ever suffered ? " 

As he gazed, the great face grew to an awful 
size, grew larger than the colossal mask of Mem- 
non, which had made him scream as a child. It 
grew larger and larger, filling the whole sky ; then 
everything went black. Only in the blackness be- 
fore it entirely destroyed his brain he seemed to hear 
a distant voice saying a commonplace text that he 
had heard somewhere, " Can ye drink of the cup 
that I drmk of ? " 


When men in books awake from a vision, they 
commonly find themselves in some place in which 
they might have fallen asleep ; they yawn in a chair, 
or lift themselves with bruised limbs from a field, 
Syme's experience was something much more 
psychologically strange if there was indeed anything 
unreal, in the earthly sense, about the things he 


had gone through. For while he could always re- 
member afterwards that he had swooned before the 
face of Sunday, he could not remember having ever 
come to at all. He could only remember that 
gradually and naturally he knew that he was and 
had been walking along a country lane with an 
easy and conversational companion. That com- 
panion had been a part of his recent drama ; it was 
the red-haired poet Gregory. They were walking 
like old friends, and were in the middle of a con- 
versation about some triviality. But Syme could 
only feel an unnatural buoyancy in his body and a 
crystal simplicity in his mind that seemed to be 
superior to everything that he said or did. He felt 
he was in possession of some impossible good news, 
which made every other thing a triviality, but an 
adorable triviality. 

Dawn was breaking over everything in colours at 
once clear and timid ; as if Nature made a first at- 
tempt at yellow and a first attempt at rose. A 
breeze blew so clean and sweet, that one could not 
think that it blew from the sky; it blew rather 
through some hole in the sky. Syme felt a simple 
surprise when he saw rising all round him on both 
sides of the road the red, irregular buildings of 
Saffron Park. He had no idea that he had walked 


so near London. He walked by instinct along one 
white road, on which early birds hopped and sang, 
and found himself outside a fenced garden. There 
he saw the sister of Gregory, the girl with the gold- 
red hair, cutting lilac before breakfast, with the 
great unconscious gravity of a girl. 


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